PHAmerica Honors Essays
PHAmerica Generation Hope Ambassador Runner-Up
"PH is a life changing illness. Try not to get discouraged; instead get involved. One will experience good and bad days, but no matter the circumstances be thankful for each day with family and friends."
- Kimberlee Ford
The diagnosis of idiopathic/primary pulmonary hypertension was difficult physically, mentally and financially. Having to give up my "normal" was not easy. Within a few weeks of being released from the hospital and given another chance at life, my family, church and the healthcare professionals encouraged me to get involved and start researching. I contacted the Pulmonary Hypertension Association's Volunteer Services Department and from there my journey of "PHenomenal Hope" began.
I started to attend PHA events and local support groups. Later, I became the support group leader for two PHA support groups and helped start a worldwide online support group. I enjoy communicating with others that are experiencing the same challenges as I am. I want patients and caregivers to feel the same, so I always stress to everyone about the PHA resources: Patient-to-Patient Support Line, support groups, email groups, online chats and Facebook. These resources help me help myself and talk to my family and friends, community, media and government leaders about this rare, life threatening illness and about providing more funding.
After the loss of a dear PHriend, I became even more involved with PH awareness and advocacy. Pulmonary hypertension is a life changing illness. Try not to get discouraged; instead get involved. One will experience good and bad days, but no matter the circumstances be thankful for each day with family and friends. Enjoy life by finding a new way of doing things. Know your limits and listen to your body, ask for assistance when needed. If someone does not understand what you are experiencing, try to explain and spread awareness. Coping with a life threatening illness can be stressful for patients and caregivers, so it is best to be surrounded with supportive people. Do not be afraid to seek professional help from a counselor or psychiatrist. Also, stay involved with your healthcare treatment because you are the best advocate for your health.
I believe in leading by example, I would recommend that patients, caregivers, and medical professionals get involved with the fight for a cure by joining the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and ordering the PH Patient Survival Guide from PHA. I am living a new "normal" and by the grace of God, "I will not allow PH to master my life". I no longer feel that I am alone in the fight and I am "Empowered by Hope."