Have you ever noticed how there’s always one person in your circle who will try to rain on your parade?  Sometimes it’s unintentional—they really mean no harm.

I think that was the case the other day when a friend of mine read my blog about graduating from the Cardiac Heart Failure Program at Duke University.  Not long after reading the post, she sent me an email suggesting that, perhaps, I should’ve thought more carefully about exposing my “medical issues” because it could hurt my “professional business.”

I never really thought of it like that. I was just happy about completing a program that was rigorous and restrictive.  But her email got me to thinking if, in fact, people are less likely do do business with someone they know has health issues.  Does your knowing I have a heart condition affect whether or not you will deal with me?  Do you think that affects my ability to give you 100 percent effort on whatever task you’ve hired me for? 

What if I had aids or terminal cancer or was just exceptionally obese? 

I know my friend meant no harm in her comment but she raises a point.  I’m sure there are people who use excuses not to deal with others in business.  But as my good friend and fellow Boomer Diva Nation member, Leslie Flowers, told me:  

For those who may be less likely to do business with you as a result of health issues … it’s their loss and … there is an ABUNDANCE of clients who look deeper than that! Follow your heart, my friend, follow your heart!

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Today I graduated.  There was no cap and gown—no pomp and circumstance–just sheer joy and renewed hope.  Today I became a graduate of the Cardiac Heart Failure Program at Duke University Medical Center.

When I signed up back in September, I saw this as my last hope.  I was taking medication but didn’t feel I was getting any better.  When my doctor suggested the program, I knew it was something I just had to do.

For the past three months, I went to the facility for cardiotherapy and nutrition assistance, faithfully, twice a week–24 sessions in all.  

I’ll never forget how hard it was to walk a few short feet from my car to the gym without being out of breath for the first couple of weeks and how often I cried because I was so embarrassed to be the youngest patient there.

But as time went on, here’s what I learned:

Stay out of the pity pool:  It’s too easy to jump into but hard to get out of.  And some well meaning folks will keep you there if you let them.

The mind is powerful:  In order to achieve it, you must first believe it.  Getting healthy required a strong, positive attitude and a determined spirit and will.

You reap what you sow:  Bad habits of any kind will eventually catch up to you.

Be a testimony:  Use your trials and tribulations to be a testimony for someone else   so that they may be encouraged. 

Never, ever give up!

As a final requirment for graduation, I had to take a test and I’m happy to report I did a little over two miles in 39 minutes and had NO shortness of breath! 

Yes, I will live the rest of my life with congestive heart failure but how I choose to live will be totally up to me.