A tribute to our late miracle child, Becca

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by BioNews Staff |

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An illustration for November's Community Spotlight on people living with pulmonary hypertension.
A photo shows a young woman from the chest up. She has long brown hair and is wearing a white blouse and small necklace. She appears to be in a professional photography studio, where she's posing in front of colorful flowers against a blurry background. She's smiling at the camera.

Our beautiful young lady, Becca, on Easter 2016, age 24. (Photos courtesy of Chris Atherton)

This is Chris Atherton’s story:

Becca, our beautiful daughter, was born in 1992. Initially, we cared for her while her birth parents made decisions about her future. Eventually, they relinquished their rights, and Becca was meant to be placed with another family. However, after learning about her medical condition, pulmonary hypertension (PH), and being told she had a low chance of survival, we knew she belonged with us. We wanted to give her a forever home despite the challenges ahead.

A professional photo shows a young girl against a light brown backdrop. The girl is dressed as a nurse, in a red and white striped dress, white smock, white cap, and red glasses.

Becca dressed as a nurse at age 5 in October 1997.

At 3 months old, Becca was given a bleak prognosis, and hospice was involved. However, she defied the odds and seemed to be developing normally. Later, as a 1 year old, surgery offered hope for her condition.

A young woman is pictured wearing a sparkly blue dress and a nametag. She appears to be standing inside a cabin at camp.

Becca as a camp counselor at Heart Camp in July 2017.

Becca and I flew to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in June 2018, hoping to address her frequent vomiting. Unfortunately, her health deteriorated rapidly, and just three and a half months later, on her 26th birthday, she passed away. In her final moments, she expressed that life had become too difficult, stating, “It is too hard to live.”

Becca’s life was a series of challenges and triumphs as she battled with tetralogy of Fallot and hypoplastic pulmonary arteries. Despite the odds, she defied expectations and inspired others with her bright spirit and advocacy for anti-bullying, congenital heart defects, and PH awareness. Becca’s journey was filled with love, strength, and bravery, leaving a lasting impact on those who knew her.

A professional, close-up photo shows a high school girl smiling and posing between tree trunks. She's wearing a red shirt and glasses and is smiling at the camera.

A high school photo of Becca taken in September 2011.

Below is a poem called “Miracle Child” written by Becca and shared by her mother, Chris. May her writing continue to keep her spirit alive.

I am a miracle child
Struggling the first months of my life
Given a 13% chance of survival to the age of 5.
Today, I am 17
I am a miracle child.
Lifesaving battle scars adorn my body
Changing my shirt, I see the bright pink scar running down my chest, Always a reminder of my yearning for life
I am a miracle child.
Fear is a part of me
I am afraid when my heart skips a beat
I fear being in the hospital
Alone …
In pain
I cry at the very thought
I fear dying
I am a miracle child
I know I am not like most valuing life
I celebrate the morning
I appreciate those who love me and know
Every day is truly a gift
I am a miracle child
Being a miracle child is
Is …
Celebrating …
Is …
Accepting …
Is …
Is …
My life
I am a miracle child.

In recognition of Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month in November, the PHCommunity Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by PH, written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #PHSpotlight, or read the full series.

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