“Surviving rare disease, 2 brain aneurysms & more didn't stop me. I’m an award-winning entrepreneur and my story is filled with determination”
When I think about the journey that has brought me to where I am today, it's hard to believe how far I've come. It's been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, of pain and triumph, of loss and gain. But through it all, I've held on tight to one thing: my determination to never give up.My story is one of inspiration and aspiration, of how every moment in life can shape us and lead us to our destiny. In 2018, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare and potentially fatal arterial disease, just one week after running a half marathon. As a multi-marathoner, running was a regular occurrence for me. I was running 70 - 80 miles a week and in the best shape of my life. So how could this be happening? How could a 43 year old, fit, athletic, vegetarian, non smoker, healthy woman be diagnosed with a disease that less than 2% of the world’s population has? It didn’t make sense. I had fibromuscular dysplasia or FMD. Nope NOT fibromyalgia, which everyone thinks I have. FMD is MUCH scarier. FMD makes all of my arteries weak, and changes the shape of some of them. I was told I’m now at high risk for stroke, heart attack, TIA, aneurysms, dissections, etc. The list of issues you can have with FMD is long, the list of things to avoid is even longer. For example, I was told running marathons was completely out of the picture. For someone who had 5 marathons on the docket, qualified and ran Boston and had plans to do so again, hearing this news was like a daggar in the heart. But, this was just the beginning. Suddenly, I was facing a life of chronic pain and medication, with 6 specialists, 7 daily meds and the fear my time here with family could be limited.To make matters worse, my (now ex) husband who is an Active Duty Army pilot, was soon deployed to the Middle East, leaving me to raise our two children on my own. Within months, I faced even more challenges, as a result, including finding out I did indeed have two brain aneurysms, and I lost my very lucrative, stable corporate job. In addition about 90% of my “friends” left. I learned this is VERY common when someone is diagnosed with a chronic condition. I was alone, scared, and struggling to find my way.But then, something shifted. I hit rock bottom. I began to drink. A LOT. ALL DAY. I got into a very deep, dark place, one that I open up about in my speech. However, in that darkness, I found a glimmer of hope. After almost losing my life to two bouts of sepsis, I realized I still had a lot to live for. I had ALWAYS been a fighter and I was NOT going to stop now. I became spiritual and eventually started my own award-winning marketing agency. I refused to let my disease define me or hold me back. I am now not only a successful entrepreneur, but I am a world traveler, and a huge rare disease advocate. I became a professional speaker, and tell my story as much as possible to not only raise awareness but to also offer hope to others who may need it.Today, I stand before you as proof that determination and aspiration can overcome even the most daunting of challenges. Even though just this past Christmas my life took yet another turn that I never expected, but I am embracing with open arms. My husband, of 17 years, left me through a hand-written letter, on Christmas Day, That is a true story. Why? Because he cannot handle my disease. Three years ago, this divorce might have broken me, but now, I refuse to let that bring me down.My message to you is simple: every moment in life is precious, and every second counts. You never know where your journey will take you, but with determination and aspiration, you can overcome anything. As a podcast guest, I bring a unique perspective on the power of determination, resilience, and perseverance. My inspiring story can help motivate others to overcome their own obstacles and achieve their dreams. My expertise as an entrepreneur and marketing professional can also provide valuable insights on topics such as branding, marketing, and entrepreneurship.