Her chronic illness helped her understand just how important preventive care is.

When Terran Lamp was just three weeks old, she was admitted to the University of Virginia newborn special care unit.

There, doctors discovered that, along with some other health issues, Lamp had been born with two holes in her heart — which would have huge implications throughout her life and inform how she thought about her health and preventive care.

Image by Ted Catanazaro courtesy of Terran Lamp, used with permission.


She stayed in the hospital for three months after the diagnosis. By age 4, she had already had two open heart surgeries, gone into complete heart block, and received an implanted pacemaker.

Just as she was learning to live her life managing one serious illness, she was diagnosed at age 10 with a benign dermoid brain tumor — and then, more recently, with breast cancer.

But while Lamp has had way more than her fair share of hardships, today she does her best to stay as healthy as she can by taking control of her health.

As a child, Lamp says, the constant worrying about her health taught her a valuable lesson about living with a chronic condition (a lesson that can help us all).

It taught her that if she still wanted to do things, like run and travel, she would have to take control of her health and not let being sick completely define her. "I can't not have it, but I can not be restricted by it," she says. "Heart disease doesn't have me. I have heart disease."

So she joined the state champion track team, she went to a college some distance away from her mom, and later, she travelled to Germany and California. Claiming this little bit of independence helped her feel like she was in control of her health and her life.

But to do this meant learning a lot about preventive care.

"I'm at the doctor probably every three months," she says, but these doctors are not just specialists to treat her heart and her cancer.

She also sees a general practitioner for an annual check-up, who helps her monitor her four health numbers: blood pressure (too low, in her case, could signify a problem with her pacemaker), cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and blood sugar levels.

She also tries to stay active in order to stay healthy.

Image courtesy of Terran Lamp, used with permission.

She works out at the gym four to five times a week and runs half-marathons. "I can't always run [the entire way]," she says. "But I complete them. I'm a finisher, even if I end up walking for most of it. That way, I feel like I've done something."

And now, Lamp is working to help other women stay healthy too.

She got involved with the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and became a WomenHeart Champion. She wants to help educate other women about the importance of preventive care and motivate other women with heart disease to keep thriving despite their diagnosis by sharing her story and what she does to try to stay healthy.

"I know what it is like, first and foremost, to be a patient," she says. "That's why I do so much for WomenHeart. That's why I tell my story ... and that's why I encourage women to go out and get checked for heart disease, so it does not go unnoticed."

As a WomenHeart Champion, she can meet other women with heart disease, offer advice and help pass along important information so that no one overlooks a possible symptom.

For example, she says, she recently met a flight attendant through her work as a WomenHeart Champion who volunteered that she was a little worried about her health. "She said, I'm a little concerned because about 25,000 feet, the left side of my face goes numb," Lamp remembers, "and she was all nonchalant about it." But immediately, Lamp felt compelled to push her to see a doctor to figure out what was causing this numbness.

To Lamp, the peer-to-peer advocacy is a very powerful tool because it allows women to look out for each other.

"We have got to make sure that we are paying attention [to our health] and we have to make sure that we are passing along that attention and that awareness," she adds.

That way, she says, maybe we can help more people take control of their health before they ever get sick in the first place.

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

Family
True
Cigna 2017
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular