Soon after I was diagnosed with DVT and PE in June 2012, I began searching the internet for more information about blood clots – what they were, what happened and what it meant for me long-term. I had never felt more scared and alone in my life. I had no one to talk to who had been through what I had, and I felt like no one was talking about what I soon found to be a serious and all-too common public health threat. According to Stop the Clot (National Blood Clot Alliance), one person dies every six minutes in this country from a pulmonary embolism or blood clot in the lung. Every minute of every day, someone is diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis – putting them at risk for a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism. The majority of these deaths could be prevented, but too many people don’t know the symptoms and signs, including medical professionals. Blood clots kill more people than AIDS, breast cancer and car accidents combined in a year, yet they are virtually unheard of by the general population. One of the reasons I started BCRN was to not only help people through the recovery process, but to raise awareness about this life-threatening condition. Throughout my recovery, I watched many celebrities and athletes survive DVT and PE, yet not talk about what happened to them in a public forum. While I realize that is a very personal choice (just like I chose to talk about it), I had hoped someone would come along who had the platform for raising awareness across the country and globe. That person is race car driver Brian Vickers. Not only is Brian a two-time blood clot survivor, he is also a widely recognized NASCAR Champion who has been very transparent in sharing his story and raising awareness about DVT and PE. And recently, I had the opportunity to meet Brian Vickers.
I have been fortunate enough to speak with Brian on two occasions about how blood clots have changed his life and about how he is raising awareness on and off the track. Since first reading about Brian’s story, which I encourage you to do here, I have felt a strong connection between what he went through and what I went through. We both were young (under 30), athletes and had clots come out of nowhere, completely altering our current life paths (his racing and mine running and a new career). Brian describes a lot of the emotions I felt during my diagnosis in this video of his story (click Watch his story) – emotions of hopelessness and loss that I think many of you can relate to. Brian also delivers a message of hope and that is, we’re all dealt a particular hand in life, which we can’t help, but it’s what we make of the hand we’re dealt that counts. According to Brian, “The good news is your life is not over! It might be different or over as you knew it, but it is not over. Life is what you make of it. You have to get up and keep fighting. Explore your alternatives, know your options. One, look at the bright side, your life may change, but it is not over and that in and of itself is a blessing [read more from this one-on-one interview with Brian].” In terms of awareness, Brian often sports the No. 55 Dream Machine sponsored by Xarelto, the Official Blood Thinner of Nascar and has a new commercial talking about his experiences with the medication (click Watch Our TV Commercial). I don’t know about you, but when I watch the clips, I feel like Brian is talking right to me about blood clots and his story – because he is!
I am extremely grateful to Brian for the time he has given to talk to me and you, the readers, and recently had the opportunity to thank him in person at the Kentucky Speedway. Not only was I excited to meet Brian Vickers, but it was my first-ever NASCAR event, which was thrilling in and of itself. I was able to meet Brian, chat with him for a few moments, shake his hand and extend my gratitude for his efforts in raising awareness – from me and all of BCRN. It was an experience that I will surely never forget.
Here are some pictures from the weekend to share with each of you.
Reader Writes In. Is there someone you admire who has survived a blood clot and gone on to talk about it? Did you know Brian Vickers is blood clot survivor? Are you a NASCAR fan? Have you been to a NASCAR race?
There is hope for healing and you are not alone,