Women’s History Month

March 24,2021

March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, we are sharing stories of empowerment. These are the stories of women in our PH community who are overcoming obstacles, supporting their fellow women, and affecting inspiration. We hope you feel compelled to share your story, too, in our comment section below!

Jody Hamilton shares how a support group connection became her liberator:

“I was diagnosed July 1, 2013 with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, and have had many ups and downs over the years. I reached out online, looking for someone who understood what I was going through, and found a support group on Facebook just for pulmonary hypertension patients. Through that support group I met a wonderful woman named Jeannie who became my saving grace, and one of my best friends. She held me up when I was down, and I did the same for her. We spent many nights staying up late and giggling over silly messages to each other. Together we made each other stronger. She has passed on now, because of this disease, but her strength and perseverance taught me to be stronger and never give up.”

Julie Bell shared with us how the support from her mother, family, and friends is uplifting and encourages her to set the same example for future generations of women:

“I am fortunate to still have my mother, who we reside with. After raising her own four children, she has been a great help to me and my children. I could not ask for a better mom (thank you, Mom!). My siblings have been incredibly supportive as well. I have a beautiful and caring sister, and two loving brothers who check on all of us regularly to make sure we have everything we need.

I feel that I am truly blessed to have such remarkable women in my family, and friends who inspire me to keep pushing forward. It is wonderful to witness their many achievements, and for that, I salute those women in my life who strive everyday to be all that they can be. I call them all PHenomenal women. I hope that the examples I have presented to my daughter encourages and inspires her to become the best that she can be. I appreciate the women who have taught her to always do your best no matter what life throws at you.”

Marcia Brown details how serving other women has humbled her:

“I retired in 2010 and have been spending some of my free time doing volunteer work mostly with women and children in underserved communities.

In 2018 I started teaching an adult literacy class at my local library. It is very rewarding work. In March 2020 the pandemic hit and classes were canceled. The students were disappointed. One of my students is a 44 year-old parent of two preteens. She called me in August and confessed to me that she was losing the literacy skills that she had learned in my class. She had lost her job and like everyone else she was very stressed because of the pandemic. She was afraid that this setback would worsen her reading skills, and would impede or eventually rob her of her ultimate goal of getting her General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

She asked if I could work with her on a one-on-one basis and I agreed. I typed up some stories and comprehension exercises that matched her reading level and copied two sets. She called me at the appointed time and I would listen as she read the stories to me and I would correct whenever necessary. We reviewed reading comprehension examples and I explained sentence structure and syntax, and corrected spelling and grammatical errors. I encouraged and supported her along the way, and even after she got her job back, we continued our weekly sessions, even when my PAH was flaring.

It’s been about seven months and her reading skills have improved tremendously. She is less stressed and more focused. Her confidence has returned and her outlook on life is positive. We will continue these sessions until we can meet together as a group. I am sure that when it is safe and classes resume at the library, she will pass the test required to move to the next level where she will be one step closer to fulfilling her dream.

This experience has humbled me and I am grateful that I was able to play a role in making her vision a very clear and possible reality. This is important to me as a woman because women need women in order to thrive. I was assisted by women at every step of my career path and throughout my journey with scleroderma and PAH. With her attitude and determination, she will do well.”

Victoria Mercado

“I was sent an angel to help me through all my scary days and nights. She became like a mom to me. Her name is Grace. She never judged me and always went above and beyond for me in every way. She’s a woman who has done and is doing more for me than anyone else. She is a blessing.

I always hid what I was really feeling and I kept what I knew and did a secret. Grace helped me work through all this, even when I tried to live life as if it was just a dream. I just couldn’t do it anymore, so Grace stayed by my side as I went to the cardiologist, and he suggested a heart catheterization. The results diagnosed me with PH, and it was debilitating to me. I was in shock, but was in denial almost all the time.

Grace made me feel less afraid. She lifted me up when I was down. Even when I feared I would be judged by many because I looked OK, but felt so bad, she said, “Don’t let what people say affect who God made you to be. Just be you.”

I had to do baby steps in my journey to make it. I’ve done so much to be a better person and Grace being an awesome spiritual mom made all the difference. She helped me make a schedule for one week at a time. She helped so I could be eating better and I was still working and still trying not to exhaust myself. Whatever I can do she’s right there for me, and knowing someone is there no matter what makes all the difference for me.”

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