- Adriana : Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mike Cohen: My name is Mike Cohen. I am 34 years old and I currently live in San Diego. Throughout the first thirty two years of my life, I never thought my story of beating cancer over 2.5 years of chemotherapy treatments, congestive heart failure (#1), blood clots in my lungs and cycling across the United States six years after, was enough to garner respect and was worthy of sharing with full intentions of inspiring and motivating my potential/eventual audience. On July 27, 2017, I suffered a heart attack, which was caused by a golf ball sized blood clot in the left ventricle of my heart (heart failure #2) due to several years of chemotherapy, my heart finally needed some help. I received an LVAD via open-heart surgery to help my heart with its function. Lastly, six months later (4 days after my 33rd birthday) on February 25, 2018, via another open-heart surgery, I received a heart transplant to replace my completely damaged heart. I finally had my answer, my story was ready to be told and shared with the world.
- Adriana: This is such a powerful and inspirational story…
Mike: I understand how unique and powerful my firsthand experience and perspectives are to the heart failure and eventual heart transplant community. Especially for the younger demographic 18-34. Beyond the fear and intense concern about having, life changed completely out of your hands. Starting with having a heart attack or heart failure of any sort, going from “normal life” to a new normal, which is now consisted of being admitted to a hospital. Having to listen and comply with every single word your nurse & doctors say in order for you to live another day. Then the eventual conversation about heart assist options, devices, etc. Then to sign the papers where you are allowing them to perform open heart surgery, to implant a device that will be a bridge to transplant (you will eventually need an additional open heart surgery for them to remove this device for another or for your heart transplant, also you will be constantly connected to battery power or power via your home, in order to power this device – which we can get to later) or destination therapy (in worst case scenarios – you will live with this device for the rest of your life). Both are viable options. You are unable to work. You are unable to walk and perform normal, daily errands and responsibilities. This is just the beginning. You haven’t even had the surgery yet. Being admitted to the hospital before you make your decision is the best and easiest part of this new normal life you will ever have.
Since I have been extremely fortunate to have experienced all of this at a young age, and the rate of numerous health conditions such as cancers, obesities, etc. have constantly increased, I feel my age demographic needs something to look to if ever confronted with situations as I have.
I am exactly, one year out from my heart attack and thirteen years since my last chemotherapy treatment, I want to dedicate my life to something I am extremely passionate about. I want to spend whatever time I have, sharing my experience with as many heart patients (pre/post surgery) and positively affect and inspire as many lives around me as much as I can.
- Adriana: How did you get to that “stronger version of yourself” mindset that helped you keep pushing, going and winning all those battles? Was there a specific book you read or person that inspired you?
Mike Cohen: Honestly, I was inspired by knowing that someone really special lost their life and I was beyond grateful, to receive his heart and continue my life. Also having cancer at eighteen, really allowed me to put this entire ordeal into a very simple thought process. If this is what it takes for me to continue living and fighting for the life that I want, this is worth pushing. I constantly want more and I will constantly continue fighting for my passions, for my goals.
- Adriana: How do you view life after all of this? What would you say the most important thing in life is?
Mike: I was given a second chance at life. I fully plan on taking the best possible care of this heart and never taking that for granted. I am aiming for the the opportunity to experience as much as I can in whatever time I have left. Taking one day at a time.
- Adriana: What is one piece of advice you have for our readers?
Mike Cohen: Focus on and fully appreciate what you have. Anything and everything. You never know when life will change without consulting with you and you are forced to change.
Follow Mike on Instagram @mrmikecohen
Follow Mike`s website: mrmikecohen.com