Keri Kasaboski is a transportation planning analyst for TJX Canada. Keri is in her early 40’s and lives just outside Toronto, Canada.
Growing up in a modern western nation, Keri always ate the same foods as everyone else and never thought much of it. As for most people, their bodyweight increases over the years and this tends to be as a result of extra body fat.
Keri’s weight peaked in summer 2013 at 84kgs (186lbs) after a family bereavement and a severe episode of depression. Barely able to walk from her desk to her car without stopping to catch her breath, she was determined to lose weight. She changed employer to add a more kind balance to her life after being bullied in her job, but had suffered physical damage from the stress. Keri was referred cardiology in Toronto and was advised that she was in stage one heart failure and displaying symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. Keri was prescribed Lasix (furosemide) and Ramipril and sent home. Attempts to lose weight resulted in a loss of only 4.5kg (10lbs) in around a year.
Then, on the 2nd of April 2015, Dr Oeschlin, a consultant cardiologist at Toronto General Hospital called Keri to say that two episodes of ventricular tachycardia had been seen on her ECG. The plan was to start Kerry on Amiodarone and implant an ICD, which is a physical pacemaker that also has the ability to defibrillate the heart should it stop. That’s when Keri decided to fight, and with greatest respect to the prescribed course, made a decision it was a route she would avoid if at all possible.
“When I was given the diagnosis, I knew I had to do something, if not for me, for those who I love and those who love me. I wanted to retire with my husband, I wanted to see my son, Matthew, as a successful adult. I wanted to feel good again and not have skipped heartbeats, and all the awfulness that comes with high blood pressure and pulmonary hypertension. I was so terrified and I was so convinced I was going to be dead by summer 2015. I was distraught at the thought of Matthew and Darin (Keri’s husband) alone, and I just thought I have to take action. I have to fight. To me it was no different to any other life threatening disease, just exercise and healthy eating is my medicine, and treatment.”
The way the Keri reacted is quite typical, but the next steps Keri took are not. Millions of people are diagnosed with life threatening conditions each year, but many only make small changes to their lifestyle once the initial shock of diagnosis has worn off. Keri’s words describe a process of leverage, in that she had made her survival not only important to her, but to those closest to her also. This is extremely powerful and a potent motivator for action in the short, medium and long term.