Heather Peterson of North Branch, Minnesota started her heart journey at the age of 26. After several bouts of feeling faint and out of breath following her regular exercise routine, she decided to get it checked out. What no young woman expects to hear are the words, "you have heart disease."
Heather was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and Ventricular Tachycardia. What followed in the next 6 years shaped her into a warrior and an inspiration to many. She endured countless tests, blood draws, ablations, medication changes, and other daunting procedures, including the implantation of a pace-maker and defibrillator. Her condition eventually forced her into a restricted lifestyle that impacted everything from sleep, to diet, to exercise, and work.
While there was no clear end in sight, Heather remained amazingly strong and optimistic. She joined the American Heart Association (AHA), became Ambassador President, and built a network of wonderful supporters to surround herself with. Her story was posted on billboards and AHA magazine covers all over the country.
Many people followed Heather's updates on Facebook, perhaps never fully realizing the severity of her condition since she almost always kept a positive tone (with her usual sarcastic undertone that we all love and adore!)
In 2017, at 31 years old, Heather's heart function continued to decline and in May, she had exhausted all treatment options and was added to the transplant list. She was completely unable to work and had little energy to do much of anything except snuggle her dog, Brock. She was eventually admitted to her "penthouse suite" (her ICU room at Abbott Hospital) where she spent a little over 2 weeks waiting and hoping for a new heart... AND posting fun pictures of her socks each day from her hospital bed. Despite all this, Heather remained fearless and brave. A shining example for us all.
At last, on Tuesday August 29th, 2017, prayers were answered. Heather and her family received word that they had found a match! Just hours later, Heather received her life saving transplant. An incredible gift that everyone surrounding her is tremendously grateful for. The surgery went very well and was complete in just 3 hours (not the 8 they were planning for) and she was sitting in a chair that night. Her spirit and drive continue to impress us every day and we hope that she will be ready to go home soon.
All that said, Heather will continue to be on leave of absence from work until she is fully recovered. As we all know, the bills do not stop. Beyond this rather large endeavor, there will continue to be medical expenses, annual insurance deductibles, and extra time off for ongoing check- ups and appointments.
Please consider donating to support Heather's journey. Together, let's give her one less thing to worry about.
Onward and upward #thebeatgoeson
~Megan Anderson & Ashley Pruner