Heart Disease Socially Isolates Teens Struggling to Be Normal


Allison volunteers for the American Heart Association, the Make a Wish Foundation and a program through her local Macy's store. She has shared her story at the Massachusetts State House. Each summer she attends the Madden Open Hearts Camp for young people with heart disease. There, she meets others who share her "war wounds."

"I don't feel so alone," she said of her advocacy work.

Allison's speech at her middle school turned out to be a success.

"Allison was all smiles with her beautiful rosy cheeks blending in with all the red attire on Feb.1," said her teacher Nancy Sacchetti. "[Her] locker was decorated with red garland and hearts that another student made for her. Many of her classmates rallied around her, as did her teachers."

Her mother said she tries not to think to hard about Allison's prognosis because so far Allison has "beaten every odd."

"It's a balance -- so much of me wants to put Allison in a bubble because you don't know how much time you have," she said. "The hardest part is keeping her life as normal as possible. ... Allison would not want to be victim -- that would be a downer."

As for Allison, she said that when her health takes a down turn, "I remember the good things. I have gotten to advocate and most teens my age don't have that opportunity."

Her message to others is one of equality: "No one should be excluded on the basis of disabilities or who they are," she said. "We should all work together for a cure for heart disease."

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