Hello, my name is Ben. I am a 14 year old high school freshman. I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM in the summer of 2014. Throughout my life, I have been heavily involved in sports. I played baseball, soccer, track, and my favorite, hockey. When I was born, I had two small holes in my heart. Neither were life threatening, but the doctors needed to keep an eye on them. I have basically gone to my heart doctor at least every year since I was born. When I was eleven, my doctors gave me great news. I was told that both holes in my heart had fully closed. I was told to follow-up in one year just to be safe.
The following year I returned to my cardiologist for a routine EKG and echocardiogram. My parents and I were completely shocked when the doctor informed us that a potential new problem was detected – my heart muscle was growing too big and too fast. I was sent into Boston for a cardiac MRI. I was frustrated that I needed to go through it. A few days later my doctor called with my test results and I was officially diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Because of my diagnosis, I needed to make some changes that would change my life forever. I needed to stop playing hockey, track, and anything that causes my heart to work hard for an extended period of time. My world of sports seemed over, but I never wanted to give up.
I remember sitting outside when my mom told me the news that I had HCM. I was sad that I had to stop playing competitive hockey. I was mad that I had to give up some of the things I loved. In that difficult moment my parents encouraged me to focus on all the things that I can do and not the few things I can’t. I spent most of that summer listening to music and teaching myself to play guitar. Music has become my new passion. I write music and play acoustic and electric guitar. I’ve started a band with my brother and a couple friends from school.
I still enjoy sports, but I participate in a different way. I wear a Fitbit that tracks my heartrate so I can play and be safe. When I play sports now, I sometimes think about my condition and the increased risks I face. I am thankful that I can still play soccer goalie for my club team and run around with my friends. The most valuable thing I have learned throughout my experience is to always look on the bright side and don’t focus on the negative.