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The Importance of Laughter and Smiles

Nov 14

Posted by: ACHA
11/14/2011 1:31 PM  RssIcon

By Becca Atherton

It was 19 years ago that I met a good friend of mine when we were both babies in the intensive care unit at the same hospital. Our parents had both been told that things weren’t looking so good for us.

Fast forward a few years. When we were eight years old we met again at a camp for kids with congenital heart defects. Every year we would see each other at camp, share funny stories, go kayaking and all around just got to feel like normal kids. FYI—two heart kids in a kayak is not a good idea. We kept running into boats and we didn’t go very fast since we both get tired easily! But we had a good time!

Sadly, though, my friend has been having some troubles with his heart lately. There is an infection at the site where his pacemaker was (they have recently moved it up to his chest) and now after the surgery his heart is very tired and not pumping as strongly as it should.

I know that he is scared, but the times that I have gone to see him in the hospital, he never once complains. He will sit there and laugh with me, goof around and just be his plain old happy self. As if nothing was wrong, as if his heart defect wasn’t even a problem.

I am just so amazed at how strong my friend is. I know part of him doesn’t talk about it because that is admitting that there is a problem and he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he is sick. Who does? But the fact that he can still laugh—even though he is lying in a hospital bed with tubes and wires all around him—is wonderful. It shows that even though his body is weak, his spirit is not.

I think if we all tried just a little more to focus on the good things in life (no matter how small they may be) and less on the bad we could be happier. Yes, there is a time to be scared and a time to be worried, but maybe part of our fears can subside when we start to laugh and smile.

Becca Atherton was born with tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia and pulmonary hypertension. She was adopted as a baby into a large multiracial family, where she is the second youngest. Becca was given a 13% chance of surviving to the age of five, but she is 19 years old and a college freshman at her local community college. She loves to read, perform American Sign Language to music and write on her blog.

Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

2 comment(s) so far...


Re: The Importance of Laughter and Smiles

I have a son born with T. Of Fallot with pulmonary atresia he is 15. Where is the camp that you go to? i would like to send him to meet a beautiful girl (inside and out) like you.

By Lisa Pons on   12/5/2011 8:01 PM

Re: The Importance of Laughter and Smiles

Hi Lisa! If you can send me an email message to, I will get your email address to Becca so she can tell you more about the camp. Thanks so much.

By Terri Schaefer, ACHA Communications Manager on   12/7/2011 9:38 AM

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