April 25,2007, I got the best news of my life. The Larry King Cardiac Foundation had met with the Board members, and decided that they were going to cover my expenses for open heart surgery! Of course, I was beside myself with joy. I was a 34 year old Mother of three, with a Cardiac Tumor and Mitral Valve that was crushed. They ran test and concluded that the tumor was benign..
This is Dr. Michael Reardon, Chief Surgeon at Houston Methodist. He is a life saver and took me in as a patient. I had applied for all type of assistance and we made too much money. So I was told to go home, get my affairs in order (lots of tears)! I had a hard time during all this, writing out my will and leaving videos for my family. I didn’t know how to feel or what to do. The doctor in Dallas, performed my first heart surgery in 1997 and did not feel comfortable tackling this type of complex surgery. He referred me to Dr. Reardon, so we all packed up and made the trip to Houston. Believing in a miracle, we waited!
Dr. Reardon had heard of The Larry King Cardiac Foundation, but never had a patient that couldn’t get financial assistance. His staff assisted me in filling out the papers and we waited about two weeks, and the phone rings…..
It’s Larry King!
Telling me that the Foundation was going to pay for my surgical procedure, in FULL! I was just telling God “Thank you”!
Larry and his staff saved me! God saved me! My family saved me! My surgery was a success, and my doctor spent seven hours meticulously cutting the tumor off of my heart. I was placed on #autotransplant and my surgery was taped with a class. I was alive and breathing.
The day after my surgery, I was on morphine and couldn’t figure out which way was up and which was down. My mother had invited a gentlemen from food services, to come join our prayer circle. After everyone left, he tried to take me out of the hospital… NIGHTMARE!
He was eventually arrested and they moved me to one of the other wings in the hospital, under Jane Doe. There’s always a first time for everything… I definitely NEVER want to experience this EVER again!
It was time to leave the hospital and go home, with a new lease on life. My dad, mom and sister traveled with me. Half way home the weather picked up and for some reason, Mother Nature decided it was a good time to throw a tornado at us…
We all had to shelter inside a gas station, where the door swung open and shattered. All the while, I’m clutching my chest trying not to die from fright. The storm eventually passed and we got on the road again. I’d never been so happy to make it home.
Over the next few months I stayed with my mom and she took care of me. She did everything for me and I loved her even more for doing that. My children stayed at home with their dad, while I healed.
Over the years, I was asked to sing for The Larry King Cardiac Foundation Gala from 2007 to 2012. It was a beautiful experience. Singing in front of Sandra Day O’connor, Aretha Franklin, and so many other high profile people.
I was also chosen to fly with three other ladies, to New York and be in the February 2009, Woman’s Day Magazine for The Red Dress Campaign.
Here is the magazine we were in.
I will never forget how it felt to be chosen to be in this magazine, and what a once in a lifetime experience it was. I flew to New York and was picked up in a fancy car and driven to the Hotel Athenee, on the Upper East side.
That trip was so epic, and I had never been treated so good in all my life.
I could definitely get used to being pampered. From the $5,000 dinner, to the robe and slippers in the bathroom.
They really did show us a good time.
During the years I volunteered my time to Larry, we were also asked to come to CNN and do an interview with Larry. It was so awesome to share that time with all of my friends, who had been gifted with a heart saving surgery.
The very last Gala I attended, was with my daughter.
The guest singer was Sara Evans… she was amazing!!! The first Gala I attended, the singer was Donna Summer. It was very fitting that Sara performed this tribute to Ms. Summer.
Here is a Youtube video of Sara Evans. Enjoy!
To say that I am grateful for my time with Larry, is an understatement. I am alive and spending my time with my family. I got to have grandchildren and turn gray! My time with the staff took me into a completely different world, outside of the box I fit in. I learned about giving of myself to impact others and to make a difference.
I felt that feeling of chills, when the money raised was doubled by our sponsors. Knowing how many peoples lives were going to be changed. It was incredible.
That chapter of my life has meaning. I am so blessed and fortunate to have received another chance! I have been working on writing a book, that outlines my journey and hopefully it can help others realize that they are not alone.