2018: My Year in Review

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by Kathleen Sheffer |

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Photo by Kathleen Sheffer

2018 was triumphant. I accomplished several of my long-term goals. I had zero organ rejection, so I remained on my lowest dose of prednisone all year, and that meant less brain fog, more stable moods, and fewer panic attacks. Though I frequently worried about my health, for the most part, I was able to live unencumbered by illness, with fewer restrictions and more confidence.

bucket list

Kathleen at Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. (Photo by Monica Sheffer)

I traveled to seven countries outside of the United States: Scotland, Ireland, Germany, England, Czechia, Canada, and (just barely) Austria. Throughout a monthlong trip to Europe, I avoided illness, even with a compromised immune system.

Kathleen at Observation Point, Zion. (Photo by Brad Dell)

I visited four national parks: Pinnacles, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite, where I hiked Half Dome and climbed cables to the summit at 8,842 feet. I got my first road bike and competed in the Transplant Games of America, where I won three gold medals. My local newspaper wrote an article about me — in the Sports section!


Kathleen holding her new bike. (Photo by Florence Sheffer)

My photography business blossomed last year. I photographed 35 events and second-shot six weddings. I showed work in group art shows and had my photos published in a print magazine.

Self-portrait of the event photographer. (Photo by Kathleen Sheffer)

I suffered romantic heartbreak and betrayal last year. Some close friends stopped talking to me because of choices I made in 2018. I cried a lot.

Two of my oldest friends with PH both got heart-lung transplants in 2018. For one, the road to transplant was quite rocky. For the other, the recovery has been a roller coaster. I have worried about losing each of them.

And I did lose many friends last year. For the past 10 years, I’ve felt like each year has been a record-breaking year for deaths in my life. So I guess I won’t say that about 2018. But, seriously, it’s been rough.

From left, Brad Dell, Serena Lawrence, and Kathleen Sheffer in Waterloo, Ontario. (Photo by Lara Govendo)

Through it all, I remind myself that life is a mixed bag, and I signed up for more of it. My organ donor gave me the gift of life, and I can say with certainty that I am living it fully.

Thank you for following along. Happy New Year!


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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