Warrior Of the Week (WoW), is a dedicated space to showcase exceptional people that encourage and motivate us to be better, with their bravery and conviction. In today’s installment, I would like to introduce to you to Heather Gilmer. A woman that has overcome every obstacle that life has thrown at her. Her driving force is her passion for helping others. Anyone that knows her can attest this.
Becoming a Warrior
Her story starts in 1985 when after being sick for 5 months got a life-changing diagnosis at 12 years of age, Type 1 Diabetes. No one in her family was a diabetic so the doctors never checked for diabetes. It was after she had lost 42 pounds in a month and passing out, that she was rushed to the hospital. Her sugar reading was above 1700. Literally, her body was starving, eating itself. The doctors gave her a poor prognosis: she will be dead by age 25 and not to ever plan on having kids because it would kill her.
Those were hard words for a young girl. Words that could have marked her life in an adverse way. Instead, she took the challenge and thrive. Without her realizing it, she was becoming a warrior.
The Ultimate Test
While attending college at UNLV in Las Vegas and only 6 months left to finished, she found out that she was pregnant. She was put to the test because the baby that she was carrying had a very severe and rare heart defect – CHD (Congenital Heart Defect). The doctors gave her 3 options: 1) a heart transplant, which the wait list was longer than the baby was expected to live. 2) terminate the pregnancy or 3) take the baby home to die.
None of these options were options to her. A fire was burning inside her and the maternal instinct kicked in. She did research and found a doctor that had created a temporary cure for her baby’s condition. The doctor owned the 2nd floor of the Children’s Hospital in Delaware. She contacted him and he agreed to take her case. Her son’s case. A light of hope was lit.
A week later she quit school. Left her son’s father (he wanted to terminate the pregnancy). Jumped on a plane to Delaware with what she could carry and never looked back.
A Journey for Two
In May 1998, she went into labor 2 months early and after 51 hours of labor, her son was born. She was 25 years old, the age the doctors had told her she would be dead by and that she would never attempt to bear a child. Defiant to both of those statements, she proved them wrong.
Their journey together began. Sweet baby boy had his first heart surgery at 5 days old. By the 11 years years he had 6 more surgeries. She was told that her diabetes is what caused his heart defect, but is also what saved his life. He is now a very happy and healthy 19 year old. Like his mother, he has beaten every adversity! A warrior himself.
It has always been him and her. A duo of mother and son, proving the doctors wrong about how long they would live. At the same time, she faced a battle with breast cancer. Becoming a victor, once again.
The Joy Of Giving
Because of all of the above and living with T1D for 33 years, she has made it her mission to raise awareness for T1D (Type 1 Diabetes) and Childhood CHD (Congenital Heart Defect). She works with JDRF to raise money for diabetes research and to raise awareness to all the things that are known about diabetes and all the things that no one tells you about.
“ I don’t reach for the stars, I am content being on the ground after being in hell for so long” ~ Heather Gilmer
Also, after going through all of her sons surgeries, the aftermath of her own health after giving birth to him, alone, her passion is to ALWAYS help anyone in need! In her own words: “I am very passionate about helping people, I literally live to help others, and am proud to say that my son does the exact same!”
Her inspiration comes from her son, he’s her hero. In the future, she sees herself helping people along with her son.
Here are three things that her challenges have teached her:
- Never ever give up.
- If you truly believe in something, stand up for it even if you have to stand and fight alone.
- Always follow your heart.
Heather lives with her son in New Castle, Delaware.
The selflessness, outgoing character and bravery with which she undertakes life, gives us inspiration and encourages us to do the same. I’m blessed to call her my friend.
You can join Heather’s online support group here.
Remember that if you would like to be featured in this section, please contact me and let’s talk.