Like most patients with Congenital Heart Disease, I got good at hiding. I hid everything from pain, fear of the future and my current state of wellness. For years, I worked for a company where I had to hide my disease and how serious my surgeries and procedures were. I forced myself to go to work every day with a smile on my face, but in secret, I would take naps during lunch and during 15 minute breaks throughout the day, just to have enough energy to live. I continued to do this, hiding my illness as best I could to avoid the yearly reduction in force. I knew being sick would unfortunately cost me my job, as I had seen it happen to others within that organization. When I was finally laid off, it was a huge sigh of relief and break from the constant stress that I had submitted to daily.
My life began to really click around 2014 and shortly after, I was hired by Nike and started to find my voice. For the first time, I was working for a company who believed in equality and that it was our differences that made us stronger. In 2015, I began reaching out to the heart disease community and accepting that my weakness could become my biggest strength. I became more involved in the rock climbing community, found Instagram and decided to use my newly found health to help others who have been in my shoes. The more involved I became, the more I started realizing my calling; helping heart patients who are battling disease, anxiety, and PTSD by igniting their stoke for life. I found freedom from my illness outdoors, on the rocks, and mountain tops. If I can beat congenital heart disease with a constant smile on my face and love of my life, then I believe anyone can.
I created a website, this website, Hearts For Adventure, in hopes of reaching the heart disease community and inviting them to explore nature with me on a weekly basis. As this happened, I read about the American Heart Association’s Ambassador program for Social Media and Congenital Heart Disease. Being a go-getter, I made the decision to apply, provided my Instagram and website, and waited. This week, I received the email. I was chosen by the American Heart Association to be their Social Media Ambassador for Congenital Heart Disease. I am so blown away and beyond humbled to be chosen for such an important task. I am here today to inspire others to live their life in moments. I want each adventure I am on and every climbing route to build stoke in others to get out and experience life, even through fear. I would lie if I said that I didn’t push myself more than I should. I don’t do it out of stubbornness, but because I believe in myself and ability to constantly get better. I want to show the heart disease community that if you try every day, you will begin to get better.
For my first #WeAreHeart post, I want to explain my “why” in becoming an ambassador. I believe it’s too easy for us to give up on ourselves if we are not where we believe we should be. I made the decision to apply and become an ambassador to be the voice you all need to hear. That voice is one of truth and says, “I can”. You deserve to be healthy and experience a life without limits. I want to assure everyone out there who is experiencing pain and suffering to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don’t see it. You may feel alone, but I promise you are not. I am an ambassador so I can spread hope. I struggled every day to get where I am today, but I never lost hope. Keep fighting, keep believing and never lose heart.
Follow me on instagram ( @mollyhemphillclimbs ) to see where my heart for adventure will lead me, and reach out if you would like to come along.