Father's Day

Hope this Father’s Day from Dads in our Family Heart Community

Every year we dedicate a Sunday to our fathers and father-figures. They guide us through life’s toughest moments, teach us how to stand on our own two feet, and give us love no matter what. We spend the day recognizing those important members of our family, but when you live with a genetic condition like familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) or high lipoprotein(a), Lp(a), Father’s Day may come with complex feelings of anxiety and loss. We asked two of our Family Heart Ambassadors to share their experiences for Father’s Day.


Father's Day
One of the things I remember about my father was his philosophy on raising children. He told me he believed fathers should raise their children to be more successful than they were - a huge task for my dad because he was an incredibly amazing man in so many ways. He succeeded, and I raised my children to be successful. I was fortunate to have a father who shared so much with me.
It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I found out that my dad had shared one “not so good” thing with me. Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a condition from an inherited little gene that many people have but do not know it. FH is a contributor to the number one cause of death, heart disease, and one of the scariest silent killers because an estimated 70% of people do not know they have it.  Without diagnosis, they don’t get treatment.
My father had a fatal heart attack at 83. He was aware he had high cholesterol, however, neither he nor I were aware that I had inherited the FH gene. He lived a wonderful, happy, physical life and was even speed skating in his late 70’s! I, too, have been active in sports and have maintained a good diet.
My father’s deadly heart attack was always disclosed to my doctors, but no one recommended that I get my cholesterol checked until I was 43 years old.  It was then that I was prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications. Despite the exercise and medications, I underwent five-way bypass surgery at the age of 69. Only one of my three children was diagnosed with FH and is being treated.  As of now, thankfully none of my grandchildren have tested positive.
I believe I have much to be thankful for, and I celebrate Father’s Day 365 days a year!  My wish this Father’s Day is that many more fathers get checked out, as well as their precious children.

 

Written by Bill Klein
Family Heart Ambassador

Father's Day

My dad didn’t know; nor did his siblings. It was collective ignorance. Six of his ten siblings never had the chance. They passed away in their early 50s – all claimed by cardiovascular disease.
Like several million kids every year, I had lost a parent due to ignorance and oversight. My father passed away due to pulmonary complications following a bypass surgery, which became necessary after three cardiac events. He had familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH.
My sister and I have FH, and so do our children – my 13-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old son. We all have this underlying bond that ties our stories and experiences together. My dad never met his grandchildren. He passed away when he was 52, when I was only 16. Yet his vitality, compassion for others, and humanity runs through me and into our next generation.
At 43, I have had my fair share of run-ins with cardiovascular disease. Because of my experiences with my dad, I knew my LDL level of 550 mg/dL was not normal, so I began my fight. Today, I am fortunate to have avoided any cardiac events. However, it took strong and persistent self-advocacy, implementing available options (which are far improved compared to the 90s), and three stents in the last two years.

Thanks to the Family Heart Foundation and their wonderful staff, I now have an added sense of confidence and community belonging. They advocate for individuals with FH and elevated Lp(a), who can’t always do it for themselves. Although the journey so far has been one filled with adversities, there is a bright ray of hope now, through this community. Shared experiences, some of pain, others of triumph, has brought some fresh new perspectives and pathways into our lives. Our collective lives. Our lives that no longer will be riddled with ignorance. More resources, new strategies, and better understanding and support will now allow us and others like us to have hope. On Fathers’ Day 2024, let’s all hope for a better tomorrow for our children and the generations to follow.

 

Written by Shubbam D.
Family Heart Ambassador

 

 

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