Disneyland Trip Part 2 - You'll Be In My Heart

"If a friendship lasts longer than 7 years, psychologist say it will last a lifetime." 

When I was just 7 years old, my parents signed me up for a summer camp for kids who had CHD like me. For the first time I was surrounded by kids my age who had scars, couldn't run and had been in the hospital for so much of their life - just like me. I found a home away from home, where for once I was not the only one who had CHD. As we swam, danced, laughed and made amazing memories together, our CHD disappeared and we were able to just be "normal" kids having fun at a summer camp together. 

I had no idea that 16 years later these friends that I made would not just be in my life, but play a huge role in it. They have helped me through so many ups and downs in my life, letting me know that no matter what happened, I would always have friends who "got it" and support me. Through more surgeries, hospital stays, birthdays, high school, graduations, becoming adults and starting college or careers - we have all kept in touch with one another. We realized from a young age that we need each other, that no one else besides our camp friends would ever be able to truly "get it". 

On Monday the 30th, 17 of us met in Downtown Disney for dinner together. It was just like camp all over again. We sat at a long table, laughing and re-telling funny stories with one another while snapping photos and catching up since the last time we had seen one another. Our heart defects far from our minds, just focusing on our friends and the wonderful time we were having together. 

Disneyland was on the 31st and it was more laughter, photo ops and some screaming on the crazy rides. When somebody needed to slow down or rest, no one complained. We had all been there before. We knew what it was like. When someone couldn't go on a rollercoaster, there was always someone willing to sit out with them so they wouldn't be alone. We took turns sitting in the two wheelchairs, resting and catching our breaths. But we did this all without even needing to discuss it. It was an unspoken understanding that we all shared. 

I have discovered that no matter how long we go without talking or seeing each other, the moment we get together, it is as if nothing has changed.
I know that if I ever need a friend to talk to who "gets it", I can call any of them up and they would drop everything to be there for me. And I would do the same for them. This friendship was formed because of one commonality but it has become so much more than that. Our CHD may have been how we all met, but it quickly became such a minor detail in our friendship. We bonded over our illnesses but soon found other more "normal" things that we had in common. Hobbies, musical taste and favorite movies, they are all just some of the "normal" things we talk about during our get togethers. We met because of our CHD but that is not the reason we are still friends so many years later. And that I believe is why we all love getting together. We are not "heart patients" when we hang out. We don't have to explain our health or talk about it if we don't want to. For a few times in our life, we get to just be regular adults having fun. Nobody is looked at as the "sick" one in the group or the one who slowed us all down. In a group full of chronically ill people, you don't feel alone or different. For once you fit right in. You belong.

So to all my heart friends, thank you for 16 amazing years of friendship, love and support. You mean more to me than I could ever put into words. For 16 years you have helped me through so many difficult times and I can never say thank you enough. I love that whenever we get together, no matter how long we've gone without talking or seeing each - it's as if we've never been apart. I want you to know, that wherever life takes us and where we go, you will always be in my heart. 

For one so small,
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry
'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
- Phil Collins "You'll Be in My Heart" 

Hope and Love,

Quick side note - the video was made by my wonderful dad who was crazy enough to join us on our trip! 


  1. Such a fun video Becca! Kudos to a wonderful dad who joined in the laughter & fun and memorialized it all with a video recording you can all watch & re-live those precious moments over & over! Yay Team Atherton!!
    This group reminds me of another such group in the Pacific Northwest - a camp each summer on Vashon Island for kids w/cancer. One of my best friends has a beautiful daughter who at age 2 developed tumors on her kidneys... She was in the hospital there (Seattle Children's) for much of her early life. And out of her experience a fabulous non- profit was born "Art with Heart" ... Which helps children world-wide dealing w/illness, trauma or grief. Hallie - my friend's daughter was the inspiration that started it all. She w/graduate college next year. All this to say - these groups - your special "tribe" of friends hold such value. Good things can and do come in spite of the hard and horrible... And your beautiful blog - your spunky spirit always rises to the top. I am glad you have such a place to be your beautiful self!


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My Life As A Chronically
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