I’m Aware That I’m Rare: Brooke Keith
Brooke Keith is a pulmonary hypertension patient from Mason City, Iowa. She was diagnosed in 2007 at age 8. She is now 19, a freshman in college majoring in biochemistry.
When I was 8, I was outside playing with sidewalk chalk and I overreached my boundaries and I pulled some rib cartilage. Then I went to the hospital and they did an x-ray, then they figured out my heart was enlarged. Then I went to a cardiologist and then he referred me to The Mayo Clinic, which then Mayo diagnosed me with pulmonary hypertension and then gave me a year to live. Then we got referred to New York.
The journey’s been tough but at the end of the day, you always overcome it. You find a way. I’m in a lot of activities, like dance, cheer and gymnastics. I haven’t really let PH stop me but I do self-limit, so I do know my limits and I do stop if I push them. Now, I took up cross fit too. When I was younger I used to play a lot of sports but then I had to stop playing contact sports after heart surgery. I kind of lost that part, because I used to be in almost every single sport I could be in and I really loved it, and it was really hard for me to quit all of them.
I help a lot at home with raising awareness so even hashtags and things like that. Then I send care packages and then our student council was planning to host a fundraiser this upcoming year, maybe get something new going at the school for it.
I think awareness is important because we all need to have compassion for each other and just because you’re not dealing with it, doesn’t mean other people aren’t. It’s kind of an invisible disease, so everyone needs to still be aware of it even though you can’t always see it on the outside. Like me, you can’t see it, but I do oftentimes feel sick and things from it so it doesn’t not affect me because I look good.
You can feel alone sometimes, but if you have the connections and a network, it is often easier to cope with it and things like that. Your family supports you but they can’t ever fully understand what you’re going through.
Thank you for letting me share my story. Together we can be agents of change offering hope and help through educating, advocating, funding research and raising awareness by sharing with others.
My name is Brooke Keith and I am aware that I’m rare.