It would put Kimberly’s faith, health, resolve and heart to the test as her doctor informed her that surgery would be much sooner and unplanned rather than later and planned. At the root of it all, Kimberly knew that her faith was strong and her family, friends, coworkers and church were with her every step of the way. It would become a farther reaching journey than just the surgery; it would change her life and the way she looked at herself as an instrument, a resource, a teacher and a friend.
Kimberly’s open heart surgery took place on February 12th, 2009. Four days later, it became necessary for the doctors to perform pacemaker surgery due to heart blockage. More than a year later, in June of 2010, Kimberly had to undergo pacemaker revision surgery. Healing was just one part of the recovery process. When the body “fails” you in some way, recovery involves some sort of forgiveness of self and a considerable amount of adjustment to daily lifestyle. As a mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend, Kimberly was used to being the “giver”. Just because she had major surgery and now had a mechanical heart valve was simply not reason enough for the dynamic woman to quit “giving”. “I had two choices,” says Kimberly. “Give up or trust God with my life; I chose to trust God.”
Family played more than an important part in Kimberly’s journey of healing. “My relationship with my husband, Victor, is even stronger,” says Kimberly. “We were married in 1993 and promised to love each other unconditionally.” In addition, he helped their children, A.J. & Mariah with their homework, made daily trips to the grocery store, ironed the kid’s clothes, worked hard every day and managed to spend quality time with her while she recovered. “I thank God for my soul mate.” She goes on to describe a man who provided emotional, physical, mental & spiritual support while she was recovering “I thank God for my soul mate.”
“I know without a doubt that God is a healer,” says Kimberly. “God fills me with the courage to help promote heart awareness throughout the community.” And with that courage, Kimberly found her voice. First, she kept a journal of her journey and then, she began to use her speaking voice to raise awareness at any place that would allow her to speak on the subject of heart disease.
This past February, Kimberly marked the five year anniversary of her first surgery. Life has changed a great deal and to celebrate, she wanted to do something remarkable and special. With the approval of Gwinnett Parks and Recreation, Kimberly began to plan an extensive collage of handmade hearts that came from a variety of sources which represented the areas of her life that mean so much more to her today than she ever dreamed possible. Of special significance were the hearts provided by kindergarten teacher, Nancy Read, at Margaret Winn Holt who was the kindergarten teacher for both of Kimberly’s children. “More than 180 students decorated a white heart for the occasion,” says Nancy. “It was very special to be able to participate.”
On Monday, February 10th, Kimberly fashioned the many handmade hearts into a huge collage on the lawn at Alexander Park in Lawrenceville. “I collected the hearts from students at local & out of state schools, a couple of churches, home school groups, dance classes and mentoring programs, and dedicated the collage to every woman, man & child affected by heart/stroke disease.” says Kimberly. “The collage was in honor of my five year anniversary of open heart/valve replacement and for every woman, man and child affected by heart disease and stroke. “I remain committed to sharing my story of triumph & healing and heart awareness throughout the community.” In addition to being a strong heart health advocate, Kimberly is an avid supporter of You’re the Cure, Power to End Stroke, and Go Red For Women – a day to wear red for heart/stroke awareness. www.goredforwomen.org.
“Acceptance is crucial during the recovery stage,” says Kimberly. “Not living in denial, but accepting the daily challenges and changes.” Kimberly continues to write her online journal and invites you to share her experience at http://4wedobelieve.wordpress.com or .
Volunteers for the project: Trecia Motley, Trina Ijamere, & Tammy Haney
The following church groups, classes, organizations & families listed below who created the wonderful hearts!
Margaret Winn Holt Elementary School: Nancy Read
J C Magill Elementary School: Lori Ferguson, Cathy Redmond, Wendy Weaver,
Starling Elementary School: Felisha Keturah
Hallback Jenkins Elementary School: Annie Bell, Ms. Vinson, Ms. Weigel, Ms. Barrett, Ms. Paremore, Ms. Branch
Benefield Elementary School: Stacey Gracia Lawrenceville Elementary School: Yolanda Arnold
Ross Elementary School, Nashville, Tennessee: Karen Bryant (my sister)
Richards Middle School: Tamara Agee
Dalton Middle School, Dalton, Ga: Cherie Haggard
Diamond In The Rough Youth Development Program: Nicole Steele, Founder/ Executive Director.
New Mercies Christian Church: 226 Children’s Ministry,
Discovery Worship Students Pre-K-1st Grade Senior Pastor: Jesse Curney III Plesanthill Baptist Church; Children’s Ministry: KIDS 4 Christ: Senior Pastor: Dr. Ronald D. Dunnigan
Christ’s Messengers: Kingdom Kids,
Christian Kids on Fire and Generation-I: Pastor, Cornelius Simon
LEAP Dancers/ Debbie Ellis: Artistic Director:
White Oak Baptist Church; Senior Pastor, Danny Odum.
Yellow Wildflowers Troop 20441: Kerry White, Valerie Thomas, Trina Ijamere, Charlotte Baker, Darsha Elphic, Adriana Sans, Yvette Tate, Laura Smith, Cynthia Smith
Angelic Douglas Scholars Guild : Grades K-4: Anne Benford
Wildflower Troup 20441: Terri Guy
On Wednesday, April 2nd 2014, American Heart Association’s National Walking Day will take place. I would like to encourage everyone to take at least 30 minutes out of their day to walk & share the importance of staying active with your family & friends. For additional information: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/NationalWalkingDay