{Survivorhood} Year Nine

Nine.

I can still remember exactly what I was wearing on the day my world broke. Gray cardigan, white button down peasant top, jeans, and cranberry ballet flats. The shoes, I still have them. They are worn and raggedy, I just can’t let them go. Those shoes carried me in the ER and they walked me out days later. Those shoes are a symbol that I survived the worst day possible.

Every day I am reminded that four had to die so I could be the one out of five who walked away. I live each day for those who no longer can. I live each day for the women who lost their lives to the Nuvaring. Those women are my battle cry and I will not rest until there are none. Those women have given me more strength than I ever thought possible.

I survived because God, he wasn’t done with me. God knew my strength before I did. God gave me a second chance and I have cherished each day to the fullest. Fate, she’s a funny one and I know that everything I have lived through was apart of her plan. That this plan isn’t mine and only Fate knows where I am going. I cling to every drop of borrowed time and thank God for every day I rise. For I know this second life of mine is an incredible gift.

On October 22, 2009 I made a choice. A choice to not be a victim. A choice to thrive and live a life worth telling. I want a life filled with incredible experiences and stories that will keep me company when I’m old. I made a choice to stand up and be a voice against the darkness. A voice to bring awareness to a cause and educate those around me about the side effects of hormonal contraceptives. My voice will not be silenced until there are none. I have work to do and I will not rest until there are none. One day there will be none and on that day I will take off my white hat and rest.

This past year was filled with heartache and joy. I became a mama to my 3rd sleeping son. Emmett James left this world before his feet ever touched my hands. I am grateful for the experience and I am thankful to be his mom. When sadness fades to joy life begins. I got to watch Sophia and Jack turn one year older. There faces bring joy to the darkness of the night. I am grateful that I survived and get to hear their little voices say “Auntie! Auntie! Auntie!” They are my world and I am there’s.

I spent my weekends traveling form place to place with my dad at my side. No matter the destination he was game. We went to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; Mackinac Island; The Badlands; Mount Rushmore; Crazy Horse; Wyoming; Jeffer’s Petroglyphs; Milwaukee; Racine; Hayward; Effigy Mounds National Monument; Crowing Wing State Park; Door County; Washington Island; and the North Shore. This summer we traveled more than most people do in a lifetime. Much wine and booze was bought and we have memories to last us until the end of time.

My dad isn’t the only one who got in on the road trip fun. I traded my dad in for Jay! We made our usual pilgrimage to WI Dells and we ventured west to South Dakota and Wyoming. This year was the year of travel and my heart is happy. I am the trip planner in our family. I plan and Jay just comes along for the ride. That is what I love about him, he’s up for anything as long as I’m involved.

My heart she is thankful. Thankful that I got a second chance at this thing called life. This second chance taught me to live in the moment. Fate has taught me to let the little things slide and stand up for the big things. I have more hope and faith than most people. For I’ve seen God work. Long ago I stopped asking “why me,” instead I stand up and ask “why not me.” I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and God knows what he’s doing. Research, saved my life and it will continue to save the lives of others. We need to believe in research and fund research so that others can have my outcome. So that they too can have a chance at living in a beautiful disaster.

YEAR #9:

For the past nine years I’ve asked for motherhood. This year I am just asking to be HAPPY. Happy with myself. Happy with my work and life. I want to feel joy and give joy. I want to be that person whose happiness is addictive and strengthening. That beacon we flock to on a bad day and the one we laugh with on a good day. I simply want to be happy.

{Hearts on 22} I’ve Got Weight to Lose and a World to GainĀ 


What can I say, I am a Minnesota girl through and through. I have a deep deep love for all things tasty. Chocolate isn’t my cup of tea, it helps that I am allergic to it, but girl I can get down with a slice of lemon cake or an apple pie. Preferably pie, I’m not a big cake fan, but if cake is in the room chances are it will find its way into my belly. 

Bacon it doesn’t stand a chance! I am in LOVE with bacon. It was a big deal when I said to Jay “I love you more than bacon!” When I am not with bacon, I am with cheese. Wisconsin’s greatest gift to the human race was CHEESE!!! Fresh cheese is the best cheese, it’s even better when battered and fried, cheese curds are literally a girls best friend. Who needs dimonds when you have cheese curds! 

We need to get real! I mean like really real here folks, thou my love for bacon and cheese is strong, it is starting to show on my ass, my thighs, and every where else it can accumulate. I am starting to feel it in my knees and I have to squeeze myself into my pants. I like wearing pants that don’t squeeze my innards and allow me to eat food while they are buttoned and or snapped up. I also like shirts that leave a little wiggle room. My dresses are more forgiving thou they to are getting a little tight around the ass region. 

Guys and Gals, shopping isn’t AJ’s thing! Yes I am female and yes I just admitted that shopping isn’t my thing. Sorry boys I know I am a catch for that very reason, but I am already happily taken. Anyhoo back to the wardrobe, something has to give I love my current clothes and I want them to love me back. So this only means one thing, “AJ needs to make a life change.” As in clean up her eating and get her ass moving like a boss. 

I should know a thing or two about weight loss and healthy living. My first job out of college was with Jenny Craig as a Program Director, I sold the program and counseled clients along their journey. It was fun, but if you know me and you know me well I HATE prepackaged microwave meals! Like hate them, they never look like the picture on the box, they are loaded with salt, and not to mention the chemicals in the plastic tray that leak into your food during the heating processes. Yes, I know I’ve put way to much thought into that. Anyways I did not want a plan that requires me to live out of my microwave or drink shakes. I wanted something that would fit into my life and not fit my life into a diet.

Enter advice from the world’s greatest best friend Sherri, she said why not try “weight watchers!” Hmmm I instantly pictured little old ladies in swim caps doing water  aerobics while counting points. Then there is Oprah, she’s always yelling “I LOVE BREAD” and urging us to give weight watchers a try. I did some research and took Sherri’s advice, I signed myself right on up for the program. $20.00 a month isn’t so bad plus there is a handy dandy ap that synchs with my Fitbit. Bonus Jay is also going to be working the WW plan too. It’s nice to have your BFF and life partner on board, otherwise this journey would be boring.

The Weight Watchers app is pretty simple to use and was easy to setup. My goal is to lose 34 pounds by my 34th birthday. Which is 10/27/2016, I figure slow and steady will win this race. Best part is I do not have to deprive myself of anything. I still get to have my beloved bacon and cheese. Everything has a point value, foods higher in sugar/saturated fat and sodium have higher point values. Which helps steer you towards healthier choices that will eventually result in drops on the scale.

The Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale program also focuses on activity and non-scale victories. I love that my Fitbit synchs with the weight watchers app. I earn extra points to use during the week based on my activity level. AJ don’t run unless she is being chased but these shoes were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. Non-scale victories can be as small as turning down Deseret or as big as finally fitting in an airplane seat. You choose your own victories and celebrate all of your success that happens off the scale.

I have been working the program since April 2 and I can honestly say I don’t feel deprived or hungry. I am less bloated and have more energy. Thou I still need naps, naps are my jam man. Cullen is tired, tired because his legs are short and we have been going for longer walks. He really likes naps too! Below is my before photo and hopefully my after will look drastically different. I don’t want to be a skinny mini, I want to be a size healthy and feel comfortable in my own skin. Because Beauty knows no number. 

Before!!!!

You can follow along on my journey as I will be sharing the tips and the tricks that I learn along the way. Besides we both know I am going to also be sharing my success and the down right funny moments of this process too! It will be fun so put on your walking shoes and come along with me! 

{Hearts on 22} Life, It Goes OnĀ 

Year six

“Dear 26 year old Self,

If I had known what was going to happen today I would never have gotten out of bed. But you being the optimist got up, you put your cranberry colored flats on, left a half eaten muffin on the counter, guzzled some coffee, and drove off to work. You just started a new job, a new challenge always gets us excited you were knee deep in learning the ins and outs of repossessions and collections. Because you were knee deep in lets face it we were trying to impress our new boss, so we brushed off our gut feeling that something was wrong.

Since Monday you brushed away the sick feeling, the raging pain, fever, shortness of breath, and everything else you did not have time for. You made it to the Sun Ray shopping center, you started to feel an annoying stab in your lugs, you being you ignored this. The situation did not improve and by the time you reached Saint Paul you could barely breath. Yet for some reason you thought you’d be all right, truth is you were not all right. Something in you made you take the Lexinton Parkway exit and head back to Woodbury.

Turning around was the best decision you made that day. You contemplated going home, the voice in your head said go to the ER, thank God you listen to it. Within an hour you were told that your situation looked bleak, your chance of walking out of there alive was slim. Your oxygen level was below 50%, a massive clot was blocking the main valve to your heart, and not to mention a few of your lung sacks exploded, and to top it off you had a stroke. You my dear almost died five days before our golden birthday.

Year 26 was to be the end of your story, but something in you decided “today is not the day” and you reached down to grab the last shred of hope you had and fought back. You AJ got the best birthday present. It did not come in a box with a fancy bow nor did it have a pretty gift tag, you got a second chance, you got life. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Smile young lady, you are the 1 out of 5 who got to walk away and live another day.”

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Life, it goes on.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how amazing my survivor journey has been. I have gotten to do a lot of incredible things that would not have been possible without the fast action of the Woodwinds ER team, nurses and staff. I am alive today because they looked past the norm and dug deeper to find out why this healthy young woman could no longer breath.

The clot was found because the Doctor took the time to ask me five little words: “are you on birth control?” Those five words saved my life, because I said yes a d-dimer was order, that test lead to the CT scan that found the massive clot in my left lung. I have no long term cognitive or physical side affects from my stroke because I received the life saving clot busters, they made all the difference and allowed me to walk out of that hospital on my own.

Ever since that day I set out into this world to make sure no other woman had to endure my fate, I have succeeded in this. My story has educated and saved countless lives. “Oh the places a birth control related P.E. and Stroke will take you!” From billboard, to public service announcement, to the steps of the United States Capital building, my story has been heard loud and clear, and my struggles are paving the way so that others can know the sign of blood clots and stroke.

I do not consider myself a victim and I refuse to live in the Nuvaring’s shadow, I am a survivor and Merck can never take that away from me. It doesn’t matter that Merck does not have to accept responsibility for my injury, I know that there product did this me. In away that moment of disaster catapulted me into an amazing second chance that is filled with passion and purpose. Nuvaring almost took my life, it will not take my second chance away from me, that is mine and mine alone.

Life, it goes on. I became a mama to a baby in heaven not once but twice. I got divorced, rented my first apartment ever, adopted a dog, quit my job without a plan, only to find a job that I hands down love, and I managed to find MYSELF. I got to watch my niece take her first steps, hear her little voice yell “AUNTIE” excitedly, and mostly I get to bond with her as I paint her little toes pretty colors. I’ve gotten to reconnect with my parents through crazy little road trips and spent my summers collecting glass on the beach. I fell love only to fall out of it. I miss Charlie every day, but I have to believe that he somehow lead me to Jay, in Jay I found home and soon I will be his wife. I got to meet and hold my nephew Jack, his sweet little chubby cheeks will melt your heart.

If it were not for the Woodwinds ER staff and medical research the fore mentioned would not have been possible. My niece and nephew would be learning about me through photos. Jay and Charlie would never of had the chance to fall in love with me. There would have been no participating in the Go Red campaign, there would have been no participating in lobby days or giving a speech on the capital steps, and this blog would have ceased on 10/22/2009. My Mama would have picked out my urn instead of my 27th Halloween themed birthday cake, and my story would have ended as silently as it started. I am alive today because of RESEARCH, research is what saved me, and I will support medical research for as long as I am standing. Because if you need proof, its right here, I am proof that it does and will continue to save lives.

Words cannot express how thankful I am for the doctors and nurses at WoodWinds Health Campus, that place is more than a hospital, it is where my second story begins and for that I am grateful, grateful that because of the care I received, I got to walk out of the front instead of being rolled out of the back door.

To learn more about Pulmonary Embolisms and Women’s Heart Health Please visit the following sites:

Pulmonary Embolism: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-embolism/basics/definition/con-20022849

To learn more about blood clots: http://www.stoptheclot.org/

Women’s Heart Health: https://www.goredforwomen.org/

To learn more about strokes: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/

To join us in the fight for a healthy tomorrow: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/default.aspx

To learn more about the dangerous side affects of the NuvaRing: http://nuvaringtruth.com/

“Educate yourself and safe a life today”

{Life Lessons} So close to motherhood, yet so far away

WaveOn Mother’s day I got the bright blue positive that we all hope and pray for. That little plastic test proved that my body still worked and that I was still worthy of motherhood. Little did I know, this to would be a test and I would once again have to face loss. Fate she can be kind, yet without warning she can churn the seas. At the end of May Jay and I found out that a gestational sac had developed yet it had nothing inside. There was no heart beat, no yolk, and simply no sign of life. It was not meant to be ours.

Someone else needed a baby more than Jay and I did. This, this just wasn’t our time and as Jay put it “Babes it just wasn’t CoraLeigh in there.” Yes, we secretly wanted a girl. June proved to be a test, losing a pregnancy isn’t easy and it put a strain on our relationship. Words were said, tears shed, yet we came out of it more in love than ever. My body didn’t want to let go of our little sac that couldn’t, so a D&C was scheduled and I began to pray. Pray because the last time I had one, it didn’t end so well and it left me with more scars than healthy tissue.

I picked out the expert, we talked through the procedure and he promised that he was going to do it right. On Monday I went under and he did it right. To my surprise as well as his, my uterus had hardly any scar tissue and the tare in the uterus healed perfectly. My chances of having a healthy pregnancy are as high as they can be for a pulmonary embolism/stroke survivor. I have a feeling that my third time and Jay’s second time will be the charm. I am not going to give up on motherhood just yet, this this is a dream I have always wanted.

Sometimes I look at pregnant women and think to myself “you are so darn lucky.” Most women have no idea the struggles a pulmonary embolism/stroke survivor faces in pregnancy. My world is complicated and most of us are told “no more babies.” I took that statement as a challenge and lord willing one day I will hold a baby of my own. Someone has to go first and tread the waters so others can follow. Right now medical science knows so little about hormone induced blood clots and heart issues, I think it’s time to change it. More research needs to be done and when that happens more women just like me will be able to carry babies of their own.

For now I will settle for the knowledge that my body still and does work. I am blessed to have two children in heaven, my son Lucia and a baby we never got to know. I’d like to believe that this was a test, a nudge from God to let me know I am still capable of carrying a child. The little empty sac will always be apart of me and I will always wonder who it would have been. I have no doubt that my turn is coming and that Jay and I will get to one day share a super cute baby announcement with all of you.

{Affordable Care Act} D.C. Meet AJ

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There are moments where I have to pinch myself to make sure that I really am living this life. I went from survivor to advocate, to spokeswoman. Last Thursday I received an email from the American Heart Association’s National Advocacy office inviting me to Washington D.C. This just wasn’t any old regular invite, this this was an opportunity of a life time. I was invited to Washington D.C. by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. When Nancy Pelosi invites you to D.C., you go, YOU GO and I did just that.

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I went and I became a part of history. I was invited to DC to speak at a press conference celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. The conference was held on the Capital Steps and it was organized by Leader Pelosi and members of the Democratic Caucus. Together we celebrated the Act and the fact that is working for millions of Americans. I am just one of the millions of Americans who benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
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This was my moment to put a face to a cause. Words cannot describe the impact the Affordable Care Act has made on my life. As a Pulmonary Embolism / Stroke survivor I can no longer be denied coverage or be forced to pay more because of my medical history. In the eyes of the law I am equal to my healthy peers and because of this I am able to afford quality insurance and put my health first.

Speaking

Yes, I found myself struggling to choose between paying my bills or paying for the medical care that I needed. For 18 months I went without health insurance and for part of that time I was only making $12 an hour. My most expensive prescription was $287.00 a month and I tried skipping it for a while, that just turned into a very expensive disaster. No one should ever have to choose between life saving care and bills. I never for one thought I would ever be in that position, but at 28 I found myself there. I found myself struggling to stay a float and was ashamed that I could not afford the health care I desperately needed.

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Today I am no longer ashamed, I am empowered. I have an insurance card in my pocket and I owe it all to the Affordable Care Act. I no longer had to settle for a job, instead I got to hold out for the one I wanted. I no longer have to check the couch for spare change just to pick up my prescription. Instead I walk right into Target and pay only $20.00 for a brand name drug. I can afford to go to the doctor and I am now getting routine care. I can for the first time in a very long time, put my health first. Life is not worth living if you do not have your health.

{Hearts On 22} Scales Are For The Birds

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I have never been one to follow the crowd or listen to critics. I rather stay in the woods and join the teddy bear picnic. Society tells me I am fat and that I should change. Change, means losing weight and striving to be there kind of beautiful.

There kind of beautiful is not my kind of beautiful. I’m not exactly fat, some call me fit. Others, well they just call me fluffy. Society wants me to be ashamed of my tits, my hips, my stomach, my ass, and my curves that go on for days. Once I was ashamed, I strived and I tried to be skinny. But, skinny wasn’t me, we didn’t work out and I put my size 14 jeans back on.

My size 14 ass has seen a lot of shit. When I look in the mirror I see curves with a dash of strength and a twist of determination. My body, she is powerful and she is amazing. She has never let me down. She beat the odds to walk another day. Scars are stories that left an imprint on your soul. My scars, shit I’ve got more than I can count. The newest one is a really cool neck scar and it is a reminder to always fight for answers.

Answers never come easy and sometimes you kind of wish you stayed in the woods. People stare at my scar, they look me up and down when they find out I had a stroke and lord they hit the floor when they find out I have a son in heaven. We are never told that sometime the fairytale sucks and that shit gets deep. Life isn’t fair and we are never prepared for the short deck. Yet we must always play the hand we are dealt and love the only body we will ever have.

My body is beautiful. Beautiful because it carries my surviving heart from place to place. I will never be a model, a hottie or hell even a heartthrob. I am simple and unexpected, and someone out there cannot get enough of my kind of beautiful.

Rock what the good lord gave you, put down that diet book, throw out your scale, and girl start loving yourself! Strength and determination are fucking sexy and they look good on YOU! Girl, you are not a bird, stop eating like one and enjoy food. As in really enjoy your life and have a little fun along the way. Kiss a stranger, dance in the rain, be daring, and never ever give up on your sweet self!

{MN Heart Walk 2014} Why Will YOU Walk?

This Saturday thousands will descend on Target Filed, not for a Twins Game, but to walk for a purpose. To walk in memory of a loved one, in honor of a survivor, for themselves, and to show their support for others. They will walk on behalf of the American Heart Association to raise awareness and funds to stop the number one killer of all Americans. Minnesota is home to the largest Heart Walk in the country and words cannot describe how moving it is to see thousands of people walking for a better day. The MN Heart Walk means I get to put on my survivor shoes and walk for those who have touched my life.

I walk for Emma, she was the first infant in the state of Minnesota to receive a heart transplant. Sadly she died 3 years later due to complications of the common cold. Thou her life was short, she made a huge impact on pediatric cardiology. What they learned in those three short years is helping save thousands of babies each and every day. Emma may be gone from this world, but she will never be forgotten. Since her passing Minnesota has become a leader in pediatric cardiology and we have a tiny little girl to thank for that. I walk because Emma never got to grow up, she never got to graduate from high school, go to college, travel the world, and because her sister Chloe got cheated out of having a best friend.

Ice Cave 16My Father Greg is my best friend, psychologist, sounding board, and my compass. No matter where I go in this world I always manage to find my way back home. I walk because God gave my father a second chance. Twelve years ago I was a freshman in college when I got the call that he was fighting for his life. His body was weak, his heart was sick, yet there was a small ray of hope. Knowing that he was at the Mayo brought us hope, they did not give up and they put this broken man back together again. They fixed his heart and 10 years later he got to say hello to his first granddaughter. Research saved his life and it will continue to save the lives of others. Without research we have no hope.

Hope is what keeps me a float on bad days. October 22, 2009 was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day I became the very survivor I was advocating for. It’s still hard for me to believe that my hormonal contraceptive device almost took my life. I drove myself to the ER with sever chest pain, shortness of breath, and a whole other mess of complications. They quickly ruled out a heart attack, yet they knew something was terribly wrong. The ER Doctor explained it was most likely an infection in my lungs and that I would be out of there in no time. For some reason unbeknownst to me he stopped in the doorway turned around and asked me “by chance are you on a birth control?” I quickly replied yes and he asked the nurse to order a d-dime test. I was being wheeled to x-ray when he stopped the nurse and told her to bring me back. I will never forget the look on his face and the fear in his eyes as he explained that the d-dime test came back positive. I got a CT-Scan and within 30 minutes a code blue was issued.

_MG_2225 I was in serious trouble, a blood clot in my left lung was blocking the main valve to my heart. I was in sinus tachycardia, my oxygen level was falling and my blood pressure was rising. In laymen’s terms “I was fading fast.” Clot busters were administered and my stroke was stopped in its tracks. The highest dose of Heparin was administered and I would be staying a while. The ER Dr. walked with us as they rolled me to the elevator bay. He took one look at me and said “remember for as long as you live, that you should be going down there, that’s the morgue and not upstairs. Very very few people survive this. Remember that!” I walk because I got to blow the candles out on my 27th Halloween themed birthday cake.

Research has allowed me to live a vibrant life and it has given me five borrowed years on this earth. In those five years I said goodbye to my son, stepped out of a loveless marriage, moved to uptown, adopted a muppet like dog, fell in love, became an aunt, found a job that I love, but mostly I shared my story and found myself. None of the fore mentioned would have been possible if it were not for the life saving research that is funded by the American Heart Association. I walk because their research saved me.

{Hearts on 22} Love With All of Your Heart

Sophia and featherChristmas is when I miss Charlie the most. Mostly because he got cheated. Cheated out of meeting Sophia. He was anticipating her arrival and received status updates on the progress of her birth. A trial kept him in New York and he couldn’t wait to hang up his traveling suit and snuggle his niece in his arms. Charlie never got to see her smile, hear her laughter or feel her tiny hand in his. Sophia never got to meet the man who dreamed of taking her to Paris and who would have spoiled her beyond her wildest imagination. Charlie died loving the tiny girl he never got to meet.

As I sit back and reflect I can’t help but to think about all of the people who have never laid eyes on their niece or nephew. Sure deadly drunk driving accidents stick in our minds. After all one drunk driver took Charlie an 4 other people out on a wintry Valentine’s Day. That was one moment in time, yet in that moment hundreds of women lost their lives to heart disease and stroke. Hundreds more died that day from a Pulmonary Embolisms or other hormonal contraceptive related side effect. Those lives never make the news, they just fade quietly into the timelines of history.

If it were not for my care team I would have joined the fading time line. I would have been another casualty not a news worthy story. There isn’t a day that goes by where I do not thank God for keeping me on this earth. For answering my silent prayer and giving me the strength to fight. For giving me the strength to stand up and shout my story from the roof tops. With each word spoken I began to heal my broken heart, I penned my name on a legal services agreement and became a plaintiff in the Multidistrict Litigation against Merck. I put myself out there in hopes that I could save one woman from enduring my hell. I love with all of my heart and in a sheer moment of utter disaster my passion was born.

My purpose is clear “educate those around me about the dangers of hormonal contraceptives, blood clots, stroke and pulmonary embolism warning signs.” I will not rest until the Nuva Ring is pulled from he market and until doctors properly inform their patients of the risk associated with the use of hormonal contraceptives. Charlie was the one who pushed me to share my story with the world. He took up my mission and would stand in the wings watching me with tears in his eyes as I brought tears to the audience. I am alive today because I listed to my heart.

When Charlie died my heart was broken and it healed each time I held our niece in my arms. Each time I heard her laughter, held her tiny hand in mine, and listen to her whisper Auntie” for the first time. To think the Nuva Ring almost robbed me of those moments. My birth control almost cheated me out of being an aunt. The Nuva Ring almost claimed my life and it changed me in more ways than I could ever explain. However it will never ever stop me from loving Sophia with all of my surviving heart. Sophia will grow up with the notion that she is one lucky little girl. Because she could be holding a picture of the woman she calls Auntie. Instead she gets to hold her aunties hand and play. She is lucky because God allowed her Aunt to be the 1 out of 5 who got to walk away from a massive pulmonary embolism on October 22, 2009.

As I watch Sophia unwrap her gifts I will be thinking about all of my sisters who lost the battle. About all of those who would gladly take my seat at the table and those who are fighting with all of their hearts. Families will gather and thousands of children will hear stories about the women they never got to meet. Heart disease, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms are taking to many aunties out of the equation. To many children are walking in memory of the woman they never got to call “Auntie” and never got to love with all of their hearts.