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Heart to Heart with Anna
Thriving with CHD
January 29, 2019 Allison Holmes
Heart to Heart with Anna

Thriving with CHD

January 29, 2019

Allison Holmes

Allison Holmes is a 46-year-old survivor of CHD. She has seven defects and is also a cancer survivor. She feels that she is thriving with CHD.  She has been evaluated twice for the heart and lung transplant list but is not on the list at this time. Allison has Situs Inversus and her doctors are not sure how to hook up a healthy heart and lungs to the rest of her organs. She works as an ESL tutor from home and volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. She is also a North Carolina Adult Congenital Heart Association Ambassador.

Allison Holmes is a 46-year-old survivor of CHD. She has seven defects and is also a cancer survivor. She feels that she is thriving with CHD.  She has been evaluated twice for the heart and lung transplant list but is not on the list at this time. Allison has Situs Inversus and her doctors are not sure how to hook up a healthy heart and lungs to the rest of her organs. She works as an ESL tutor from home and volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. She is also a North Carolina Adult Congenital Heart Association Ambassador.

Episode Transcript

Allison Holmes:0:00Instead of thinking about all the things that you can't do, you may be amazed at what you CAN do.

Anna Jaworski:0:17Welcome to Heart to Heart with Anna. I am Anna Jaworski and the host of your program. This is the 5th Episode of Season 13. I’m very excited for today’s show to feature a very special mother. Today’s show is entitled, “Thriving with CHD.” And for those of you who are new to the program, you may not know, CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defect, but we'll be using CHD throughout this episode. Allison Holmes is a 46-year-old survivor of CHD. She has seven defects, and is also a cancer survivor. She feels that she is thriving with CHD. She has been evaluated twice for the heart and lung transplant list but she is not on the list at this time. Allison has situs inversus and her doctors are not sure how to hook up a healthy heart and lungs to the rest of her organs. She works as an ESL tutor from home and volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. She is also an Adult Congenital Heart Association Ambassador for North Carolina. In the first segment, we’ll meet Allison and discover a little bit more about her heart condition. The second Segment will involve us learning more about her medical history, especially how cancer and her heart defects may or may not have been related and in the final segment, we will learn about how Allison is thriving. So welcome to “Heart to Heart with Anna,” Allison.

Allison Holmes:1:40Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here.

Anna Jaworski:1:44Well I'm happy to meet with you and get to learn a little bit more about your heart condition. So let's start with that. You're CHD sounds really complicated. Can you tell us more about your defects?

Allison Holmes:1:56I have seven defects with my heart. They include transposition of the great vessels, single ventricle, double outlet right ventricle, severe pulmonary stenosis, mitral valve atresia, I have an ASD and VSD. I also have situs inversus totalis, which is a rare congenital malformation in which the major visceral organs are reversed or mirrored from their normal positions. My doctors classify my condition as Eisenmenger's Syndrome and as a result of my CHDs, I have Pulmonary Hypertension.

Anna Jaworski:2:34Right. I've actually done a couple shows on Eisenmenger's Syndrome and from what I understand, most people develop Eisenmenger's Syndrome because they have heart defects that have not been palliated or not been fixed when they were younger and so they developed a pulmonary hypertension secondary to their heart defect. Is that what happened with you as well?

Allison Holmes:2:56Well, I did have three open heart surgeries in my lifetime. The first one was at the age of one year old. I was given the Waterston shunt and before they even got me closed up, the Waterston shunt started to fail and then Dr. Robicsek came in and he performed the Blalock-Taussig procedure and that surgery saved my life. At the age of 19, in 1992, I had another surgery. My body had outgrown the Blalock-Taussig shunt and they placed a central shunt. So that was the procedures that I've had on my heart. In 2007 I did have a stint placed in my shunt due to the shunt crimping and they did that via catheterization.

Anna Jaworski:3:48Okay. So even though it sounds like your anatomy is that of a single ventricle heart, you haven't had a Fontan procedure.

Allison Holmes:3:56I know I've often wondered why, and I don't know why that is. When I asked my doctors about it, they say, well, the Fontan has its own problems. Honestly, I'm just not sure why I didn't get that procedure. I'm not sure when they started doing it and I'm not sure why it wasn't performed on me, but here I am without the Fontan.

Anna Jaworski:4:19There you go and you're not the only one. I do know of some other single ventricle survivors who have had a BT Shunt and maybe a Hemi-Fontan, but not the completion Fontan. So you're rare. I wouldn't say there were a whole lot of people like you out there, but it's nice to see that you are thriving despite the fact that you haven't had the traditional set of procedures that we see with children who are born with the same kind of condition today. Boy, that is really quite a laundry list of heart defects. So I bet that's a challenge to keep up with all of the different defects.

Allison Holmes:4:55It is. It took me a long time to learn all that there were. As a matter of fact, I didn't know until I was older and I started becoming more curious about exactly what was wrong with my heart. So I would ask doctors and they were always vague. So then I asked for medical records and I just researched it on my own through my medical records and then once I learned all of these things and I started asking specifics to my doctors about the situation.

Anna Jaworski:5:25Well good for you, Allison. So you had to become your own advocate?

Allison Holmes:5:30Absolutely. And even as a young adult learning about my condition, like I said earlier, the doctors were very vague. It's like they didn't think I could comprehend what it was and I had to push and on my own I had to learn about it and I'm not sure why that is. And I hope that it's changing because it's really a disadvantage I think for the patient for it to be like that.

Anna Jaworski:5:53Oh absolutely. It's a disadvantage for the parents, too. I think that things are changing. I think that the whole perception, like you're saying, I don't think the medical community believed that the parents and the patients could really understand and I think that is justified in a way because I don't think all of them really understood. Congenital heart defects in a pediatric population was so new back then. There weren't a whole lot of specialist who knew what was going on and to be able to explain it to somebody else was really tough. And now here's the interesting thing, you've lived long enough that you were a little girl when it was hard for them to explain to the parents and to children and you've grown up as the field has grown up. Now, it's hard for some of them to even talk to adults because you're such a small subset of the population. I think that you and so many of the other heart warriors out there are teaching the medical community what needs to be known and how to communicate with people at different stages.

Allison Holmes:7:04Absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Anna Jaworski:7:07So, I have a feeling you've also been teaching them about heart transplants and lung transplants, dealing with a patient with situs inversus. Oh my goodness, girl, could you make it a little harder for them? So tell us about the whole process of being evaluated for a transplant when you have such a complex heart defect.

Allison Holmes:7:31Well, that's an interesting story. I was evaluated twice. The first time I actually never got through the entire process because the first time when I was being evaluated is when they discovered that I had a cancerous tumor in my left kidney and, of course, that halted the evaluation and changed the course of my treatment from my heart to getting the cancer out of me.

Anna Jaworski:7:59Wow. So that must have been kind of scary. Here you think you're going in for a heart transplant evaluation which can be scary enough on its own.

Allison Holmes:8:08Yes.

Anna Jaworski:8:09And then they find out that you've got a tumor growing. So did they stop everything and then you had surgery to remove the cancer?

Allison Holmes:8:18That's exactly what happened. They stopped the evaluation for the heart and lung and then I went to Oncology and they proceeded with setting up the operation and removing the left kidney and they did not do any of the traditional cancer treatments. I'm assuming it's because of my heart condition. No chemotherapy, no radiation, just removal of the kidney and recovery from the surgery and I went back to my normal level of functioning before the cancer.

Anna Jaworski:8:52Okay. So you had this evaluation. They stopped it because they found the cancer. It took care of the cancer. But you said you were evaluated a second time. Why were you evaluated a second time?

Allison Holmes:9:06I guess because I'm in heart failure. I probably have been for many, many years and the evaluation was halted, I rebounded from the cancer, so then they wanted to look into it again.

Anna Jaworski:9:19Okay.

Allison Holmes:9:20And that didn't get very far either because of the situs inversus. They looked at me and looked at my chart and my organs and everything and they said, we don't know how we're going to do this. You're not a candidate for the heart and lung. So that was somewhat disheartening because you know, I had hope that would be something for me when when it got really bad. I wouldn't want to do it right now because I feel I have good quality of life. If things turn worse, I would like to have that as an option. I did talk to my current congenital heart doctor and he says that it's not out of the question if things do go bad, they just don't know how they would connect a normal heart and lungs to the rest of my organs. So that would be the trick. That would be something that they would have to work out. And I've asked them, has anyone with situs inversus ever had a heart and lung transplant? And they don't know if there has. It's very rare, but the answer is we don't know. I've heard that a lot in my life.

Anna Jaworski:10:35I bet you have.

Allison Holmes:10:37Yeah.

H2HwMichael:10:41Texas Heart Institute were offering us a mechanical heart and he said, "No, Dad, I've had enough. Give it to someone who's worthy."" "My father promised me a golden dress to twirl in. He held my hand and asked me where I wanted to go." "Whatever strife or conflict that we experienced in our long career together was always healed by humor." Heart to Heart with Michael... please join us every Thursday at noon Eastern as we talk with people from around the world who have experienced those most difficult moments.

HUG Message:11:01Heart to Heart with Anna is a presentation of Hearts Unite the Globe and is part of the HUG Podcast Network. Hearts Unite the Globe is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resources to the congenital heart defect community to uplift, empower, and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resources pertaining to the CHD community, please visit our website at wwwcongenitalheartdefects.com for information about CHD, the hospitals that treat children with CHD, summer camps for CHD survivors, and much, much more.

Anna Jaworski:11:48Allison, and before the break you were telling us about your really complicated medical history and how it was discovered you had cancer when they were doing that first evaluation. You said it was in your kidney. Was there any concern that maybe it had spread?

Allison Holmes:12:07I don't remember. I was stunned. Kind of shocked, when you hear the word cancer, you automatically think death, so all of that was kind of a blur. Once they did go in and they pulled the kidney out they said that the mass was contained inside of the kidney. They said the mass was the size of a small apple.

Anna Jaworski:12:28Oh, wow.

Allison Holmes:12:28But it was contained within the kidney and it had not spread.

Anna Jaworski:12:33Oh good. So it had not spread. Did the doctors feel that that cancer had any kind of connection to your congenital heart defects?

Allison Holmes:12:42You know, they never said and I often wondered. Throughout my life I would go to my doctor's appointments, I would go twice a year and they often did chest x-rays. So I have a very curious mind and I wanted to know. So I did some research and some studies show a correlation between a lot of radiation during childhood and cancer in the CHD population. I don't know if it's well known. This study that I read was from Taiwan and there were some other studies as well, but the one that I recall the most was from Taiwan. I know after the kidney was removed and I went back, they never did another chest x-ray on me at an annual exam. Yes.

Anna Jaworski:13:27Well, but you know, I have a son who is 24 and when he was an infant, every time he had a cardiology appointment he would get a chest x-ray and an EKG and when he was real little they would even stick the pulse oximeter on him and they would check his ear and his finger and his toe to see if there was a difference in his oxygen saturation level. But then as he grew up, they quit doing the x-rays and that was really surprising to me, but they started doing echos more so I wonder if it's similar to you. I wonder if it was that same era that they were kind of phasing out the chest x-ray because I think they're really kind of limited on what information they can get from that x-ray. The only other time I remember my son getting quite a few x-rays was when he was in the hospital and they were looking for pleural effusions and they would take a chest x-ray to see if there was fluid around the lungs.

Allison Holmes:14:24I never knew why they were doing it. Like I said, I was a little girl.

Anna Jaworski:14:28You were a little girl when you were evaluated for a heart lung transplant?

Allison Holmes:14:31No, I was a little girl when I was going and having these chest x-rays. I was being evaluated in my late twenties and early thirties. I just did what the doctors said. But I do have some issue with one of my lungs. It's not fully functional, so I always thought, well they're just looking at my lungs. I didn't know.

Anna Jaworski:14:51Okay, well that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Since you know that one of your lungs has some trouble. So what year was it that you remember they stopped doing the x-rays. You said you were in your late twenties or early thirties?

Allison Holmes:15:06When I went back after the cancer diagnosis and then they removed the kidney and I went back, I never had another chest x-ray after that.

Anna Jaworski:15:18So what year was that, do you remember?

Allison Holmes:15:20That was in 2001.

Anna Jaworski:15:23Yeah, and it was in the late nineties, early two thousands when I remembered them phasing out the x-rays for my son. So I wonder if that's something that across the board pediatric cardiologists said, you know what, maybe we're doing too much radiation on these kids and we're not getting the kind of information we need now that the echos provide us so much more information. I wonder if it was just kind of phased out and it was just coincidental that you had had your surgery at around the same time. It's fascinating. I would be interested in seeing that study from Taiwan because I've worried about that. I know that my son was exposed to a lot of x-rays himself, but when I brought that up with the doctors, they said, oh, he gets a certain amount of x-rays just walking outside. Don't worry about it. Did you ever hear anything like that?

Allison Holmes:16:15No, I don't recall. When I was a kid and younger, I didn't ask questions probably until I was in my mid twenties then I really started wanting to know more about my situation and know all the finer details. I just trusted the doctors and did what they say.

Anna Jaworski:16:33So was there a turning point when all of a sudden you figured I need to take control of this? I need to start asking more questions?

Allison Holmes:16:41Probably after that. Probably after finding out I had cancer and when I was 18 years old, I started going to the doctor by myself without my mom, without anybody, and I just kinda took control of my health. Even though I was doing well, I kept going to my appointments twice a year because I knew I had a serious issue and I didn't want to not see the doctor because in case something was to happen, I wanted to stay in care. And that's very important. A lot of people when they're doing well, they think, oh, I don't need to go to the doctor. It's a waste of time. They don't go and they fall out of care and then something terrible happens and the doctor's like, where have you been? You know, you should have been coming to see me. I've always stayed in care and I'm very thankful. I think if I hadn't, they may have missed that cancer and it could have spread outside of my kidney and you know, I may not be here today, so.

Anna Jaworski:17:41Right, right. Well, I'm so impressed that even though as a young person, as an 18 year old, you took charge of your health yourself, you took charge of everything, taking yourself to your appointments and it must have been scary to be a young person in your twenties dealing with all of these complex issues and then to be told, hey, let's evaluate you to put you on a heart lung transplant list.

Allison Holmes:18:07It was scary. It was. It was overwhelming, but I prayed, a lot, a lot of faith in God and I just gave it to God. That's what I do when I am overwhelmed with my health and other things in life. I just let go and let God. I give it to him and I try not to take it back too much. Sometimes I do, but he's never failed me. He's kept me here for all of these years. It was scary, but that's what got me through.

Anna Jaworski:18:33So were your parents' also right there by your side?

Allison Holmes:18:36Are you talking about when I had cancer or or during the heart and lung transplant evaluation?

Anna Jaworski:18:43Right.

Allison Holmes:18:44Okay. Well my husband, which he wasn't my husband then, but he's my husband now. He was with me. My mother was actually going through breast cancer at that very same time.

Anna Jaworski:18:55Oh my goodness.

Allison Holmes:18:57So she had her own battles to fight. I've always been independent. I've taken on my health myself and they had eight kids to take care of growing up. So you know, I didn't want to be a burden, so I thought I need to take care of this myself. They've got enough to deal with. And then when I was being evaluated and had the cancer, my mom had breast cancer and she had a really hard time. My husband was there with me and he supported me and took care of me. Now they did come up there to Chapel Hill. They brought me home. They prayed for me. They were there for me in the capacity that they were able to be there for me, but like I said, my mom was fighting her own battle with cancer at that time, so...

Anna Jaworski:19:42Wow. You were dealing with cancer on two fronts. That must have been so scary. Are you the oldest?

Anna Jaworski:19:50No, I'm not. I'm not the oldest. There's eight of us and I'm the oldest daughter and I think I'm the third from the youngest. I think that's right. It's hard to keep track.

Anna Jaworski:20:03Well you act like an oldest, so oldest daughter. Okay. That makes sense. Just the way you take charge and all that. You act like you could be the oldest child. Now you said that your cancer treatment was not traditional, so all they did was remove the kidney, but they did not do the radiation or the chemotherapy. Did your mom have traditional cancer treatment?

Allison Holmes:20:28Yes, she did. She had chemotherapy and radiation and as a result of the radiation that she had, she now has a degree of heart failure because the radiation was so intense. The doctor says it kind of cooked her heart, so she's doing all right, but she's never been the same since that. She had a terrible time with it.

Anna Jaworski:20:54It sounds like you have a new bond with your mom just dealing with these heart issues together and the cancer.

Allison Holmes:21:02We definitely have a lot in common and we've been through a lot together and she's always been there for me, always lifted me up in prayer and being supportive, but they're very busy. They still work at 72 years old. They're still running their own business and I think they're kind of workaholics.

Anna Jaworski:21:22I think it's admirable that you didn't want to worry your parents too much and you took on your care of your heart yourself. I think it's amazing that you were going through cancer treatment at the same time that your mom was, two different kinds of cancer. One in a kidney and one in the breast and that you guys were on the same path. It's like you were going on a parallel path and now she's dealing with heart problems as well.

Allison Holmes:21:49Yes, and it's mild, but like I said, the doctor said it kind of cooked her heart. Her feet swell. She gets tired easy. She doesn't have the stamina that she used to have and sometimes her lips look a little bit blue, like mine, but she's a trooper. She's tough. I guess that's where I got it from.

Anna Jaworski:22:10I think so.

HomeTonight4Eve:22:19Home. Tonight. Forever by the Baby Blue Sound Collective, I think what I love so much about this CD is that some of the songs were inspired by the patients. Many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired by. Our new album will be available on iTunes, Amazon.com, Spotify. I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with congenital heart defects. Enjoy the music. Home. Tonight. Forever.

Rejoiner:22:29You are listening to Heart to Heart with Anna. If you have a question or comment that you would like addressed on our show, please send an email to Anna Jaworski at Anna@HearttoHeartwithAnna.com. That's Anna@HearttoHeartwithAnna.com. Now back to Heart to Heart with Anna.

Anna Jaworski:23:15Allison, before the break, you were telling me about your complicated medical history with the involvement of cancer and how cancer not only affected you but also affected your mother, and yet I know from my correspondence with you and from talking with you that you are a very optimistic and positive person. In fact, you even described yourself as thriving with CHD, so what does that mean to you?

Allison Holmes:23:38It means living the best life I can within my limits, contributing something positive to the world, being able to work a job that I enjoy, have fulfilling relationships and contributing to my community in small but meaningful ways.

Anna Jaworski:23:53I love how you told me in your bio that you're a teacher, so right away there you say that you're giving back. You're helping people to learn English, but that you do the meals on wheels. Add, now that you say you're an ambassador for the ACHA. I think that's amazing. So that's a really busy life to be doing the ESL tutoring and volunteering with all these different organizations. Can you tell me what you're most passionate about?

Allison Holmes:24:21I'm passionate about helping others. I really enjoy my job where I help people from South Korea learn English as a second language. That's very fulfilling. I love working with the elderly. I've volunteered with meals on wheels in my area for the last seven years.

Anna Jaworski:24:36Oh, wow.

Allison Holmes:24:38And I love working with animals. Last year I began volunteering with Carolina Waterfowl Rescue feeding baby birds during the spring and summer and caring for the injured song birds during the fall.

Anna Jaworski:24:51You actually have to feed the birds? Why would you ever feed the birds?

Allison Holmes:24:55Some of them get injured, some are orphaned. The mother gets killed or the babies fall out of the tree, you know, onto the ground and people find them and they bring them in or some of the volunteers go out to get them and then there's a little nursery and they're all in their respective cages and you get tweezers and you feed them meal worms and fruit. Then it's so cute to see them open up their little mouths.

Anna Jaworski:25:24Oh my gosh, Allison, you're a surrogate mama bird.

Allison Holmes:25:28Yeah, it's just a lot of fun and some of them don't make it, but most of them do and then they have the bird release and you get to see all of your efforts, the hard work that it is to send them off into the world to catch their own worms and have their own little lives and it's just fulfilling. It makes you feel good, like you've done something meaningful.

Anna Jaworski:25:53Yeah, absolutely. Wow.

Allison Holmes:25:56There's a lot of other things. Birds get injured, owls get hit by cars. There are all kinds of different ways that we can help these animals and it's just a lot of fun. Mainly I've worked with the baby birds and the injured song birds. It's a lot of fun.

Allison Holmes:26:13Wow. That sounds fascinating. How did you stumble upon this organization? Because I wouldn't think this is something that everybody knows about.

Allison Holmes:26:23Well, it's interesting that you asked that. I live in the country. I live on a little farm myself. We have goats and chickens and guineas and cows, so we did have horses. I was going to meals on wheels one day and I saw this rooster on the side of the road and he looked very bad. All of his feathers were sticking out and he just looked like something was wrong and he was just standing there. I didn't think much about it. When I was coming back from finishing my meals on wheels route, he was still there and I thought something's wrong with this bird. I had seen on Facebook the Carolina Waterfowl page and some people were liking the page and following it and so I called them and they came out and they rescued the rooster and they named him Elton and he had been...I'm not sure what happened, but he was very badly injured. They took him in and they took good care of him and he got better, so then I thought, wow, I would really love to be involved with that organization. And then I saw on Facebook where they had the baby birds. I just said, I want to do that, and so I applied and they accepted me and I started doing it.

Anna Jaworski:27:34Wow. You saved a rooster. And that rooster probably would have died otherwise.

Allison Holmes:27:39It would have, a coyote would have gotten him or he would have just laid there and died. Yeah.

Anna Jaworski:27:44Oh my gosh.

Allison Holmes:27:46I know that with this organization, the director, she has gone all over the country rescuing animals that need help. She is very passionate about it and she will go wherever there's an injured animal if it's within her means to do so.

Anna Jaworski:28:01Wow.

Allison Holmes:28:02And help these animals. She's very passionate about it.

Anna Jaworski:28:07That is a passion, but I know you have another passion lately and I know that passion deals with the ACHA. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how you got involved with that organization?

Allison Holmes:28:18I went to the Adult Congenital Heart Association Conference in Orlando. I think it was 2016. I had never known anyone like myself my whole life, even up to the age of 45 years old, 44 years old. I had never known anyone like me and when I found out about this organization and the conference they were having, I wanted to go. I wanted to meet other people like me. I was able to go and when I got there and I saw all of these people like me and the camaraderie and just knowing the community, the feeling of, wow, I am not alone. Look at these people. They're like me. They look great, they're thriving, they're doing wonderful and I learned so much and it was then I just knew I wanted to be a part of that. I felt so inspired and uplifted and encouraged and I wanted to share that. I wanted to be a part of that. I learned about the ambassador program. I applied to be an ambassador. I went through the interview process and I was accepted. I'm very happy to be a part of that organization. I also met and developed a close relationship with my first heart sister at that conference and that relationship has been so rewarding and helpful to me. It's really hard to put into words except for to say I don't feel so alone with CHD anymore.

Anna Jaworski:29:51Right, you have a heart sister.

Allison Holmes:29:53Yes.

Anna Jaworski:29:54Do you belong to the Facebook group, Zipper Sisters?

Allison Holmes:29:57Yes, I do.

Anna Jaworski:29:58I think that's an awesome group.

Allison Holmes:30:00It is amazing.

Anna Jaworski:30:01Oh my gosh. I have met so many zipper sisters, I was at that conference, Allison, we could have been sitting right next to each other and not even known it! Isn't that amazing? I was mostly sitting next to Rita Scoggins. Rita and I are longtime friends and yes, I was at that conference. It was inspiring. They had a lot of great speakers. I can't recommend highly enough going to the ACHA conferences because I really do think there's so much value in us getting to be with other parents, other heart warriors, other spouses. I mean the conference is for everyone and they had a lot of doctors at the last conference, didn't you think?

Allison Holmes:30:40Yes. It was very educational, very informative, and I got to meet other people with Eisenmenger's. Our group was small, but that's where I met my heart sister.

Anna Jaworski:30:51Awesome.

Allison Holmes:30:52Also, when I was there, I shared a dinner table with a lady who also went on to become an ambassador and we were in the ambassador program together at the same time and so we were able to reconnect during that and we recently worked on a project with the Education Affinity Group building a support team, and that's going to be published, upcoming and placed on the website, achaheart.org.

Anna Jaworski:31:18That is awesome. Well, what advice do you have for others so that they can feel they're thriving with their CHD, just like you are Allison?

Allison Holmes:31:29I encourage folks to develop good communication with your heart doctor. Make sure you keep your appointments, be your own best advocate. Educate yourself about your condition. Don't be afraid to ask your doctors questions if you don't understand something about your situation. Knowledge is so very important in situations like ours. If I hadn't gone to my appointments, the cancer would have gone undetected and I may not be here. Also don't leave your care up to your doctors alone. You need to take an active role in your care. You need to be proactive in your care. Don't be afraid to take risks. Do things that you think that maybe you can't do. Push yourself within reason to obtain goals or have experiences that maybe you think you can't. Don't put limits on yourself. Instead of thinking about all the things that you can't do, you may be amazed at what you can do.

Anna Jaworski:32:24Yeah, that's true.

Allison Holmes:32:25Definitely listen to your body, but gently push on toward those things that may seem unattainable and you will be amazed how fulfilling your life can be.

Anna Jaworski:32:36I love it. I love it. So much positive advice, such a great outlook on life. Thank you so much for coming on today's program, Allison, and for sharing so much wisdom with us.

Allison Holmes:32:48Thank you for having me. It's been a wonderful opportunity.

Anna Jaworski:32:51Oh, I'm so glad we got a chance to meet and who knows if we really did meet in Orlando or not, I think we would have remembered each other, but next time when we go to the conference, we'll have to look for each other so I can give you a hug.

Allison Holmes:33:04Absolutely. I would love that.

Anna Jaworski:33:07Well, friends that does conclude this episode of heart to heart with Anna. Thanks for listening. Find us on IHeartRadio and subscribe. And remember my friends, you are not alone.

Conclusion:33:18Thank you again for joining us this week. We hope you have been inspired and empowered to become an advocate for the congenital heart defect community. Heart to Heart with Anna, with your Host, Anna Jaworski, can be heard every Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern Time.

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