Friday, 15 August 2014

PHighter Friday: Michelle F.

I am so excited to share my PHight of flight story with you all.  I hope this touches someone somewhere.

I’ll start with sharing with you that God blessed me with a child at the age of 16.  I am lucky to have wonderful parents that made huge sacrifices to raise her.  When I was diagnosed, my doctors told me that I couldn’t have kids because the mortality rate of pregnant women with PH was 50%. Instead of being angry about not being able to have another child, this news made me realize how blessed I already was to have a beautiful little girl.

Team photo before the race

The diagnosis changed the way I valued my relationship with my daughter Christine.  I know now that time is of the essence. The diagnosis really helped me refocus my energy on strengthening my relationship with her, my family and friends. 

July 23, 2013, is the day I went to urgent care for being short of breath.  I was swollen from head to toe.  I couldn’t walk 10-15 feet without feeling short of breath and my heart was racing uncontrollably. After a week of tests in the hospital I got the news. I had class II IPAH. 

I was prescribed Letairis and Adcirca but ended up taking Adcirca only.  In a year’s time, I went from a class II to a class I.

Pre-diagnosis, I had been so used to living with the classic PH symptoms.  I was always tired. I would have intermittent leg swelling, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeats.  Those things just became my “normal”.  I went to so many doctors who thought I had the regular systemic high blood pressure and I was actually relieved that now we knew what was really wrong. I was excited to see what life would be like on medication!

Post diagnosis, I am able to do 30 minutes of moderate cardio without feeling short of breath.  I can walk up 2-3 flights of stairs non-stop.  I even participated in The World Famous Camp Pendleton 5k Mud Run!  I completed this event with a group of amazing friends who helped me make it to the finish line even though I was ready to quit after the first quarter of a mile!  I walked most of the time, but I still finished the race!

It has been one year and two weeks since I was diagnosed.  Physically, I feel 100% better than I did before.  Emotionally, I’ve matured 1000% (one thousand!).  Yes, I know it is horrible to read the life expectancy statistics.  Yes, it is sad knowing this disease is progressive and there is no cure.  Yes, it is frustrating to accept that child bearing is not an option.  But the truth is, like the title of this blog, we have two options.  We chose the PHight or Flight. I chose to PHight. 

My “one year survivor” anniversary just passed.  As I reflect on the years I lived before diagnosis, I realize that I spent most of my life just existing.  In the one year post diagnosis, I have truly been living.  I work full-time as a paralegal at an amazing law firm.  I spend more time being active and making genuine connections with people.  I appreciate every minute have and spend my time doing things that make me happy.

Paola and Me

I didn’t start to live my life until I thought I was about to lose it.


  1. Love this article and you, Figgy!

  2. Soo inspirational and brought tears to my eyes. You're a fighter :)