Heartbreak… Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Maybe you were dumped, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, suffered loss, financial downturn, or simply gave in to fear. It’s that moment when you feel completely numb, isolated and alone, desperate for something or someone to give you faith. My own heartbreak and battle with heart disease led me to create Voices To Share… Healing Hearts One Voice at a Time. Together we'll banish self-pity, and invite prosperity in all matters of the heart. As a Heart Coach, I will share: inspirational stories that will give you courage, tips to shift your fears into love, recipes and products to live a heart healthy life.


Holly's Voice

I met Holly five years ago in a baby group class. We immediately connected through our passion for jewelry and philanthropy. Her line, CJ Free Jewelry, is unique and timeless.  Last year Holly and her business partner, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, approached me about creating a red-corded bracelet in honor of my battle against heart disease.  I jumped at the opportunity to raise money and awareness for the American Heart Association. Today, Holly and Jamie are launching a new campaign with a limited edition purple bracelet to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s is an illness that is close to Holly’s heart. I’m honored to share Holly’s voice.

Photo collage of Holly, Poppy, and his artwork.
Going Purple for Poppy
By Holly Freeman

Alzheimer’s has touched so many.  I know firsthand.

My grandfather was an incredibly talented artist. His works spanned from beautiful flowers and landscapes, to drawings of my favorite cartoon characters he made just for me and my friends. His mind was as precise and colorful as the paintings and drawings he created.

But Alzheimer’s changed that. The details and precision that had always been a hallmark of his art started to shift. There were inaccuracies—the first sign to me that his health, and more specifically his mind, were declining. 

As we spent time together while I attended college near his home, the changes became more and more painful to watch. Alzheimer’s was slowly taking him away – and more than anything, I wanted to be able stop this devastating disease.

There were good days when Poppy would turn and look at me with a half smile when I called his name or squeeze my hand when we were sitting together. These moments were small gifts – moments of recognition.  But as the disease progressed, there came a point when my grandfather didn’t recognize me at all.

I don’t want any other granddaughters to lose their grandfathers to Alzheimer’s. That’s what is driving me to help fund research, programs and care for people dealing with this disease. I’m taking action not only for the sake of those suffering, but also to spare their loved ones the pain of simultaneously living through this disease.

Back when my grandfather was diagnosed, we didn’t have such easy access to information. People weren’t on the Internet sharing their stories.  But today, we have the opportunity to come together and support one another. And we each have the opportunity to take action.

Friday September 21st is Alzheimer’s Action Day. If we each choose to do something – even if it is as small as talking openly about Alzheimer’s – we can raise awareness, get more funding for treatments, and move closer to a future where our children won’t see their grandparents, their parents or anyone else slowly be taken by this disease. 
Learn more about how you can go purple to end Alzheimer's this month at Alzheimer's Association


Jenni's Voice

Several months ago my husband forwarded me an invite to a golf tournament.  Brooke's Big Heart Golf Classic was hosted in honor of Brooke's heart transplant and to promote awareness for the organ donation registry.  Brooke Balck, a beautiful vibrant little girl was born healthy.  But as her mom shares, their world turned completely upside down when she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at 2 months old, the exact condition I've been living with for years now.  I'm honored to share Jenni's voice with a story that will touch your heart.  

Photo of Jenni and Brooke taken from Maria Shriver's Blog

The Gift of a New Heart
By Jenni Balck
(story edited from Jenni's journal entries)

Our world was changed June 17, 2009 when we received the surprising news that our 2 month old baby girl, Brooke, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, and cannot pump blood efficiently.  We had gone to the pediatrician for routine immunizations and as we discussed her severe colic and reflux, he noticed that a couple symptoms could double as heart issues.  Although he thought it was nothing, he sent us to a pediatric cardiologist just to be safe.  Well, we were all dumbfounded to find that the smiling, cooing little peanut in front of us was suffering a life threatening illness.... 

Technically, the surgery occurred at about 1:30AM, so tomorrow (Aug 18th) will be BROOKE’s Big Heart Day that we will celebrate and pay tribute to her precious heart donor, Malaikye, who is with us every day.  It is the anniversary of her new red lips and warm feet, a result of having appropriate blood flow for the first time in 2 years.  It is the memory of her “Christmas Tree” of IVs, and her waking up and asking to go to the play area.  Of wanting to eat chicken nuggets right away, and when we said no, she decided she’d settle for some chocolate.  It’s the memory of Brooke receiving a Joy Jar on the very day of her transplant, from a special little girl who was battling cancer near our home.  It’s knowing now that Brooke would walk the halls of the PICU (with Toms and purse) on day 2 and go home on day 8.  It’s also the day that started the year at home with her big brother, Billy, who loves her with all of his soul.  That celebration will all begin tomorrow, but today is OUR heart day, as it is the memory of the news, the emotional journey we have been on as parents, and handing over our daughter in pure faith and hope that all would go as planned....

As exciting as this milestone is, I know another family is suffering from their own anniversary.  They were so courageous to donate their sweet child’s organs and we are forever grateful to them for saving our daughter’s life.

To learn more about Brooke's story and register to become an organ donor, please visit Brooke's Big Heart.


Karen's Voice

I met Karen in high school.  She was always fun, outgoing and sweet.  A few months ago when I was gathering toys and clothes for children in Peru undergoing open heart surgeries, she was one of the first people to contact me with a trunk full of goodies.  I'm honored to share Karen's voice.

Here's a photo of Karen and her family in October 2011.

Karen's dad and daughter in New Zealand February 2012.

By Karen Moran Faullhaber
Two thousand and three was set to be the best year of my life. I had met the guy of my dreams (Scott, who is now my husband) and -- despite having known him for only 3 months – had decided to join him on a six month work assignment he had in Burlington, Vermont.  Since our time in Burlington was going to be brief, my plan was to train for a marathon, discover New England, and enjoy my life rather than work. 
I was so excited when my parents came to visit us.  Scott and I planned to take my parents to Montreal for a long weekend, followed by some time in Vermont, where my parents could get to know Scott.   As we explored Vermont that weekend, we visited the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.  It was there that the “best year of my life” transformed into something much different. 
My mom and Scott were walking ahead of my dad and I.  I distinctly remember him telling me “hold one for one second before we go in because I want to tell you something.” My dad is very sentimental and expressive so I knew what was coming next: a sappy speech about how he couldn’t believe how grown up I was and how much he liked Scott.  Ugghh, I don’t know why we always had to have these awkward sentimental moments together in public. I was thinking about how I wished he could just tell me these things over the phone or, better yet, leave them to my mom. 
Anyway, we stopped and I steeled myself for the awkward sentimentality.  My dad then said “Karen, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma a few months ago and have been told I have 18 months to live.”  I was stunned.  Was my dad really telling me he had 18 months to live while a tourist group walks by me in front of the Trapp Family Lodge? It took a minute to register and then I just cried uncontrollably. My dad hugged me and took me for a walk. It was so surreal, I couldn’t think and when I saw my mom I just cried like a baby.  Poor Scott just looked on not knowing what to say. The rest of the day is a blur. I called my brother and cried some more.  The rest of their visit is a blur, all I remember is standing in front of the Trapp Family Lodge listening to those words coming out of my dad’s mouth. 
Months passed in Vermont.  I wished I had a job to keep me occupied.  I wished I were home to help out (my parents forbid it).  Most of all, I wished I knew more about what my dad was up against.  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) was an invaluable resource, providing me with a wealth of information and support. Doctors told my dad that his only hope was to harvest enough stem cells to enable him to get a stem cell transplant. He tried and tried but was never well enough to harvest the cells.  Again, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society came to the rescue.  My dad was able to participate in a clinical trial for a drug LLS funded called Rituxan.   That drug ultimately saved my dad’s life.  
My dad is now in remission, which has given him the extra time to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, witness the birth of my two children, and share in their childhood.
LLS is truly remarkable, it literally changed my life and it changes other peoples’ lives everyday.  I am honored to give back to LLS now as part of a team led by my brother competing in the LLS Man and Woman of the Year campaign, which is a 10-week competition among teams across the U.S. competing to raise the most money for LLS.    All support is welcomed and deeply appreciated.  I am passionate about LLS because I have seen first hand the comfort and benefits it provides.  To donate or learn more about LLS or the competition please click HERE and visit my WEBSITE.


Stefanie's Voice

Stefanie, Sarah, me and Michelle by the food trucks at the event

Good bye rubber chicken dinners and hello food trucks, Pauly D, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Bruno Mars.  Need I say more?  Hilarity for Charity not only raised money for Alzheimer's, a disease that has recently touched my good friend Stefanie, but it was fun.  The event was hip and cool, bringing awareness to an often times forgotten disease.  Rogen, who's wife Laura Miller's family has been affected by the disease for multiple generations, hosted the event and wants the world to know that Alzheimer's isn't just a disease for "old people".  In fact, according to the Alzheimer's Association website, it's estimated that nearly 200,000 Americans in their 40s and 50s have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.  Stefanie's another one of my inspiring girlfriends.  Check out her voice and donate to the Alzheimer's Association, every penny counts!

By Stefanie Paletz
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."  I am not a religious person, but I have held this prayer close to me for a very long time.  My mom introduced it to me when I was young, during a time when I could not control my worrying.  I needed to learn how to quiet the noise inside my head, to be still, and to trust that things have a way of working themselves out.  Over the years I have turned to this prayer in times of need.  Always for a different reason, but seeking the same advice - to distinctly separate what can and can't be controlled and to find acceptance.  Never has this prayer carried more meaning for me than it does right now.  My father is 64 years old and he was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer's at age 62.  It was 2009 and I was 31 years old.  Fear, sadness, pain and despair inhabited my soul and haven't left since.  They have become all too familiar feelings.  Acceptance, on the other hand, is still foreign.  Why should I accept that this terrible disease has stricken my dad and my family?  How can I accept that he won't know his own grandchildren?  Or that my dad is no longer the same man that my mom married over 40 years ago?  These are questions that I struggle with each day. 
Prior to his Alzheimer's, my dad always knew about acceptance.  He embodied it.  He rarely challenged what life threw his way.  he simply dealt with what is.  Even now, this disease only allows him to focus on the present and to accept what is directly in front of him.  It's ironic, yet oddly beautiful. 
In this crazy, fast-paced world filled with tragedy, I hope to learn from his outlook on life and to accept the things I cannot change so that I can find peace.