I was born October 11, 1976 on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, a full five weeks early to the surprise of my family. I was raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where I learned that hard work is the height of value and that playing hide-and-seek in with the neighbourhood kids was the epitome of fun not to mention a little bike riding, frog catching, and recording ourselves on cassette tape. #GoodOldDays
Then. I grew up.
I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. Before my arrival at UBC, I was Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Psychology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria (UVic; 2011-17), and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Assessment and Learning Technologies (2010-11). I holds a Ph.D in Educational Psychology from Simon Fraser University, a M.Ed in Educational Psychology with a specialization Instructional Technology and a B.Ed in Secondary Science and Art Education from the University of Alberta. Learn more about my research here.
My story in brief
In 2005, I was diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy following a sudden onset of heart failure. I was stabilized with medical therapy and continued on with my doctoral work until 2010 when I suffered a stroke. During my post-doctoral fellowship I had surgery for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. In the summer of 2013, I was hospitalized with end-stage heart failure and placed on the heart transplant waiting list. While waiting for a new heart, I received a left ventricular assist device in March 2014. In October 2014, I received my first heart transplant. On December 26, 2017, I suffered a massive heart attack due to non-reversible severe cardiac allograft vasculopathy, a type of transplant rejection, and was placed on the heart transplant waiting list for a second time. In January 2018, I received her second heart transplant. My journey is documented here on my blog, Heart Failure to Harvard, in “I am the Clinical Trial” for the JACC:HF Journal, and in the documentary feature “My Broken Heart“
Heart failure advocacy – the HeartLife Foundation
In 2016, at the national meeting of the Canadian Heart Failure Society in Montreal, Canada, I collaborated with Marc Bains and Dr. Sean Virani to create a patient-led advocacy organization for Canadians living with heart failure. The HeartLife Foundation of Canada is the first and only heart failure advocacy group in Canada run by patients for patientswhose mission is to transform the quality of life for people living with heart failure. The HeartLife Foundation has patient members all across Canada, and is actively engaged with the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Canadian Heart Failure Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and is a member of the Global Heart Hub, The Alliance of Heart Patient Organizations.
I have actively published in major cardiology journals such as the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure (JACC HF) and the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (CJC) providing patient perspectives on the latest treatments, research, and innovative clinical trials. I have been a keynote speaker, panelist, and invited speaker at a number of high-profile cardiology events and conferences such as the Cardiovascular Clinical Trialist Forum (CVCT), Heart Failure Society of America, American College of Cardiology and the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
I am a member on the Medical Services Commission of British Columbia, member of the Heart & Stroke women’s heart and brain health research steering committee and heart failure council, and sit as the only patient group representative on Health Canada’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Medical Devices Used in the Cardiovascular System (SAC-MDUCS).
In 2019, my co-founders of the HeartLife Foundation and I, Marc Bains and Dr. Sean Virani, received the Dr. Harold N. Segall Award of Merit from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society “in recognition of their significant contribution to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and promotion of cardiovascular health in Canadians”.
I have started and re-started this blog so many times but I guess until now I have not really been ready to completely share this experience with the world. I was in heart failure for 9 years, had my first heart transplant for 3 years, and in January 2018 received my second heart transplant. I am driven to share my story more widely in hopes that my experiences may help someone else, and to help others through a charity I co-founded called HeartLife Foundation of Canada. I found that as I learned more about my condition, read about others’ stories, met with other patients and family carers, my perspective changed and so did my hope for the future.
This blog is my chronicle and this is my story.