As the parent of a child with a Congenital Heart Defect, I constantly wonder what the future holds for my eight month old daughter Mila, diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). I not only wonder about her future health, but also about her quality of life way into adulthood. It was therefore my absolute pleasure to have encountered our interviewee Meagan Broucek, who has been kind enough to share her story.
Meagan is a beautiful and vibrant 24 year old originally from Saline, Michigan who is currently living and thriving with HLHS. She is one of three children and holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Trine University in Indiana. Meagan is currently a photographer who owns her own business – Meagan B. Photograpgy https://www.facebook.com/MeaganBPhoto. See part two of her very candid Pink Bow Diaries interview below, which demonstrates that despite the bumps she’s encountered in her life’s path to date, she has prevailed, triumphed and is now living her life happily on her own terms!
♥ What’s your social life like and what do you do for fun, living with HLHS?
I am very social now that I am a young adult. I try to meet new people and like talking to different people. I love photography, so I will go out and just take photos. I played softball for the longest time, and love just walking or running on the beach. I can do anything like a person who doesn’t have HLHS, but I need to know my limits on how much my body can take.
♥ What are your long-term goals?
I want to work with children; I would love to become a speaker about HLHS for parents and children who have HLHS. I am unsure if that dream will come true but why not try! I want to become a Child Life Specialist in a hospital and help children with distraction therapy for when they need to get shots and things of that nature. I believe working with children is my calling in life.
♥ What inspires you and gives you the courage to bare your scar?
It took a lot of time, but I somehow just became confident with my scar. It happened for me after high school, I was in college and away from everyone that made fun of me or hurt me in someway. I could finally be myself, with my scar. I was embracing what I was blessed with. I have this scar to show that I survived; I made it though three heart surgeries. I am here for a reason and I know that now.
♥ How has living with HLHS affected your career and your ability to find love?
It has affected my career because I changed my thoughts about it for years until I worked at a hospital for my internship. I knew I was meant to work in a hospital and helping people. To find love? Was difficult, since I was so shy during school. I didn’t date all through high school, and then I graduated and became the real me. I met an amazing guy in 2012 and we have been dating since. He says he doesn’t even notice my scar, and doesn’t make a difference. He loves me for who I am.
♥ Describe your current health and fitness regimen.
I walk on the beach almost daily; I walk about two miles. It’s great and refreshing to be outside. I also do cardio and know my limits on what I can do, so if I am getting too tired I will slow down or stop.
♥ How do you view yourself outside of HLHS? Does your heart condition define you?
No, my HLHS doesn’t define me in anyway. I was born this way and it will always be a part of me. I view myself as a confident, outgoing, amazing person and will always strive to be that.
♥ Do you fear HLHS or embrace it and why?
I embrace it; it’s me and wouldn’t want to be any other way. My HLHS and everyone who has ever made fun of me or like my scar has made me who I am today. I don’t ever want that to change. I also fear it for when I have a child. I am fearful that I might pass it on and will have to deal with the worry that my parents dealt with.
♥ How do people generally respond to your heart condition?
Everyone is different. I have had people be rude, or nice. There have also been people I’ve wanted to punch because I was so upset with what they have said. It’s crazy that some people can be so rude to someone who is so different. If someone asks “Are you sick? What’s wrong with your voice? I tend to either answer “nothing is wrong” or I tell them I have HLHS.
♥ In your own words, please give my daughter Mila the best piece of advice for facing life with HLHS.
I would tell her that she needs to embrace her scar, embrace why she is here and why God made her this way. Mila, you were put on this earth to do something amazing, so embrace your life and make it your life. Live the way you want to!