Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Traveling Hope Road: A PH Patient Treks Across the Country

Diane and her son stop in the Redwood National Forest
during the course of their trip.
Last summer, pulmonary hypertension patient Diane Leavitt drove across the country on a journey she calls “Traveling Hope Road.” As she went, she visited PH patients and others along the way, filming interviews and creating an online documentary she hopes will make life a little easier for the PH community and others dealing with life’s ups and downs. Her documentary is now available, and you can view it below or on YouTube.

“It was 33 days in my Ford Focus with my 6-foot-tall son and me, seeing our country and bringing awareness to PH,” Diane says. “The journey was amazing.”

Diane started in her home state of Maine where she teaches high school and college. “The idea for the cross-country trip came from a life-long desire to take such a trip. This past year was physically challenging for me, and I was concerned that waiting any longer could prevent me from doing the trip,” Diane says.

“Additionally, I have a student, Josh, who battled cancer and is on the winning side right now. He and I saw many high-schoolers complaining, ‘My life stinks….’ Typically, their lives were pretty great, but they were having that bad day of a coffee spill or some other mundane issue. Josh and I would smirk at each other knowingly. I want our youth to appreciate what they have and be equipped to move beyond obstacles as the real ones will occur at some point in their lives.”

Diane and her son made 22 stops along their journey, staying in 16 states as she traveled to California and back again. “My favorite interviews came from PH patients in the Sacramento, Calif., area,” Diane remembers. “They were so excited about the video and about the opportunity to help someone else with this condition. They also felt that it would be helpful for them to share this video with their families in the hopes of better explaining their unique situation.”

Having completed this project, Diane feels even more strongly that anything is possible. “Folks should not lose hope and should not feel they are alone,” she says. “Reach out to the PH support groups or support line that PHA offers. It’s an illness that is difficult to explain to others, especially our families. PHA can be a tremendous support to patients. Be sure to ask questions, be sure to find out what exercising you can do so that you stay in shape even though you might not be able to ‘run’ or pick things up, or whatever your limits are. Work around those limits and live with PH.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Diane and collaborators. Wonderful job. Enjoyed listening and seeing. Best, Judie S

Anonymous said...

Diane, this is an awesome project. What a great idea!
Donna

Deb said...

Diane wonderful job, you are always teaching and caring. I had no idea that you are going through this . You are a blessing to so many. Will pray for you .
Deb Holden

Christina Danyluk said...

Wonderful! I remember so many things from this movie and especially the words "acceptance was my miracle" and "when you have acceptance you have peace and when you have peace you can face anything". Thank you for sharing so deeply with honesty and for your compassionate hearts!