In 1986, at 9 just before my 10th birthday I had Open Heart Surgery to repair an Atrial Septal defect. Before my surgery I was always weak and sick and my heart even stopped a couple times. I am thankful for the surgery because it saved my life. At the time it was scary but I was happy because someone had finally figured out what was wrong with me. My parents said that was the scariest thing they had ever seen or gone through. After my surgery the doctors found that I have Rheumatic Heart Disease. My mom, 9 and a half year old daughter, 4 and a half year old daughter and I have RHD. My mom has Mitral Valve Prolapse with moderate regurgitation and I and my daughters have Mitral, Aortic and Pulmonary ValveProlapsewith moderate leakage. I am on anti-biotics daily since the surgery to protect my heart from infection because I have had Endocarditits more than 3 times in my life. I am allergic to most anti-biotics on the market sooccasionallymy doctors stop them so that my body will not become immune to the anti-biotics that I am not allergic to, the bad part is that I tend to get sick and have to be hospitalized when they do. My heart disease and what I’ve been through is the reason I currently work in the medical field as an Emergency Medical Technician and a Medical Assistant and am currently in school to become a Registered Nurse so that I can later become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I want to so this so that I can help others with heart disease by educating them and sharing my story. I make sure that I visit my doctors annually and have my Echocardiograms when I am supposed to although there are times when I have palpatations and heart quiver when at rest which prompts me to visit the doctor sooner. Recently my doctors found that I have another heart murmur so I make sure to stay on top of things with my heart. I recently changed the way I eat to a better healthier way have begun working out and meditating. As a teen I rebelled against my scar on my chest, being told by my school district that all I could do was dress for gym but could not participate as per doctors orders, which cause me to be depressed and caused me to eat and eat and that was bad. I now know that they were saving my life and I appreciate what they have done for me. I love the Go Red For Women campaign and what it does for women. I remember growing up and always hearing about men having heart attacks and strokes and other heart diseases but there was never any reference made to women with heart disease. When I was younger after my surgery I attended a camp though Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, NY where I had my surgery and there was just as many if not more girls than boys at that camp with me who had open heart surgery. Even to this day when people see my zipper (my scar) they are in disbelief that I had open heart surgery and I have heart disease. So I thank you for getting the word out. Red has always been my favorite color and the color that I wear most and it will always be. I am a fighter and I will continue to fight for myself and others with heart disease.