Just the beginning…
My name is Mike Cohen. I am 34 years old and I currently live in San Diego. Throughout the first thirty two years of my life, I never thought my story of beating cancer over 2.5 years of chemotherapy treatments, congestive heart failure (#1), blood clots in my lungs and cycling across the United States six years after, was enough to garner respect and was worthy of sharing with full intentions of inspiring and motivating my potential/eventual audience…
On July 27, 2017, I suffered a heart attack, which was caused by a golf ball sized blood clot in the left ventricle of my heart (heart failure #2) due to several years of chemotherapy, my heart finally needed some help. I received an LVAD via open heart surgery to help my heart with its function. Lastly, six months later (4 days after my 33rd birthday) on February 25, 2018, via another open heart surgery, I received a heart transplant to replace my completely damaged heart. I finally had my answer, my story was ready to be told and shared with the world.
I understand how unique and powerful my first hand experience and perspectives are to the prospective heart failure and eventual heart transplant community. Especially for the younger demographic 18-34. Beyond the fear and intense concern about having life changed completely out of your hands. Starting with having a heart attack or heart failure of any sort, going from “normal life” to a new normal which is now consisted of being admitted to a hospital.
Having to listen and comply with every single word your nurse & doctors say in order for you to live another day. Then the eventual conversation about heart assist options, devices, etc. Then to sign the papers where you are allowing them to perform open heart surgery, to implant a device that will be a bridge to transplant (you will eventually need an additional open heart surgery for them to remove this device for another or for your heart transplant, also you will be constantly connected to battery power or power via your home, in order to power this device – which we can get to later) or destination therapy (in worst case scenarios – you will live with this device for the rest of your life).
Both are viable options. You are unable to work. You are unable to walk and perform normal, daily errands and responsibilities. This is just the beginning. You haven’t even had the surgery yet. Being admitted to the hospital before you make your decision, is the best and easiest part of this new normal life you will ever have.
Since I have been extremely fortunate to have experienced all of this at a young age, and the rate of numerous health conditions such as cancers, obesities, etc have constantly increased, I feel my age demographic needs something to look to if ever confronted with situations as I have.
I am exactly, one year out from my heart attack and thirteen years since my last chemotherapy treatment, I want to dedicate my life to something I am extremely passionate about. I want to spend whatever time I have, sharing my experience with as many heart patients (pre/post surgery) and positively affect and inspire as many lives around me as much as I can.
In October of 2019, I am going to be cycling from San Diego to South Carolina/Jacksonville, FL to meet my heart donor’s family and pay my respects at my heart donor’s burial site.
This is just the beginning…
Written by Mike Cohen, Instagram: @mrmikecohen
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