Natalie Rose Havens: “I’m Lucky To Be Here.”

Natalie Rose was singing as a professional opera singer for seven years before her diagnosis. She was jet-setting around the world and felt perfectly fine until one day; she found out she wasn’t ok. Living in Philadelphia while in between tours. To pass the time, she decided to get a part-time job to make extra cash before returning to the tour. Natalie received an offer from Penn Medicine, but before she could start, they required a complete physical. She complied and thought nothing of it until she received some startling news when her results came back.

The role at Penn Medicine required her to get a physical to ensure she was in good health. Natalie considered herself a relatively healthy person. However, something unexpected happened; instead of receiving a clean bill of health, she received news that she had a heart murmur. The doctor advised that she go to a cardiologist so that they could have a better look at her heart as soon as possible. Still not thinking anything of the diagnosis. Natalie found out that she had mitral valve prolapse during the tests.

Mitral valve prolapse is not necessarily fatal, and many women are born with it; however, for Natalie, this was the root of her heart murmur.

Mitral valve prolapse is a type of heart valve disease that affects the valve between the left heart chambers. Usually, mitral valve prolapse isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t require treatment or lifestyle changes. But some people may need medications or surgery, especially if the prolapse causes severe regurgitation.

After ignoring the diagnosis for a little while, she decided to go to a cardiologist just to be sure. But, again, she did not expect to hear the news that the doctor had delivered. After doing several tests, the cardiologist told her that she would need to have open heart surgery within the month. “A month! That can’t be right. I just turned 30 two months ago. How could this happen to me?”

When she told her former manager of her recent health condition, she graciously hired her full-time so she could get health insurance to help pay for her medical expenses. If it wasn’t for the job requirement of having a physical, Natalie might not be here today.

After making a full recovery after open-heart surgery, Natalie reflects on her heart journey and doesn’t take anything for granted. She credits her faith, family, and friends for helping her get through the times when she wanted to give up. Her scars from the surgery are a badge of honor to show all she has endured. However, the biggest lesson from the experience is that she now knows to take her health seriously and not ignore the signs. This lesson is something that we should all implement into our daily lives. “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Natalie Rose Havens