Beverly says that life is fragile. If you have a heart for others, you’ll be blessed beyond measure.

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As a retired professional racquetball player, having a brown belt in Karate, competitive in swimming, track, and volleyball in high school, I would never have imagined that I would have heart disease.

Seven days after my 57th birthday celebration, I woke up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning with a heavy weight in my left leg and arm. Thinking that they were asleep, I went back to bed. At 7:30 a.m. I woke up again with the same concern. I called a doctor friend, and she thought I should go to the emergency room and have a CT scan. When I arrived, my blood pressure was 199/100, and my left side was still heavy, numb and not working normally. The CT scan showed normal, and I still didn’t understand all the excitement.

I was shocked that they wanted me to go downtown by ambulance. With five nights in the cardiac unit and multiple tests, they saw the 1” hole in my heart (PFO) that had caused the stroke. I discovered that I had atrial fibrillation and a blood disorder, Hemochromotosis. The next month I had the PFO closure procedure and began to wear the heart monitor. The report showed 200 beats/minute. I went to physical and occupational therapy, but still have sensations and discomfort on my left side. I have returned to my workouts three times a week with my trainer and will continue to get the cardio up to the old times.

Things like this are never convenient, but it was the busiest time of year for me. I am Co-Founder of Careity Foundation, a non-profit who deals with and helps people get through their cancer journey. I have seen truly sad stories and battles with cancer. It was breast care month and our biggest event with celebrities and 4000 guests was around the corner.

I have never been an excitable person when faced with an obstacle. Just tell me the rules and the fix, and I’ll comply. Or, I’ll find a way to cope and move on. My health problems don’t compare to the pain and suffering that I have seen with others.

My family legacy is one of blessings and perseverance. My great-grandfather was born without arms or hands in the 1800s. He wrote with a pen in his toes or teeth and became a lawyer by the age of 20. He started a publishing and printing company that lasted 102 years. I inherited a strong will and determination. Just ask my friends and family!

Life is indeed fragile and if you have a heart for others, you’ll be blessed beyond measure. I know I am.

– Beverly Branch, Aledo, Texas