Less than four months ago, Monique Pelletier was lying in a hospital bed, waiting for a new heart.
On Saturday, she completed the Blue Nose Lifemark 5K without stopping.
“It went well. I had a good time. It felt great,” Pelletier said shortly after the race.
The 51-year-old from Timberlea, N.S., was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation nine years ago after waking up with shortness of breath.
Pelletier says each year she was going into heart failure, but her health problems came to a head in January.
“The heart transplant clinic made the decision to officially put me on the transplant list for a heart,” she said.
Within 24 hours, Pelletier was told they had a heart for her. She was in the operating room by the weekend.
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Ironically, Pelletier was released from the hospital on Valentine’s Day. She says the recovering process was unknown territory.
“It’s more of a mental thing to get past than a physical thing,” Pelletier said. “You’re not sure how much exercise you should do or can do, so you take it lightly at first. But then you gain more confidence.”
And as her confidence started to increase, so too did her desire to raise awareness of heart disease and the importance of organ donation.
That’s when Pelletier decided to take her message, and story, to the Blue Nose.
“You’re losing your heart and you’re accepting this donor heart, and you know this person has passed and the family is grieving. So you’re dealing with that guilt,” said Pelletier.
“But I think that everyone should be made aware that signing their donor cards is a special thing because it gives somebody a second chance at life.”
Pelletier finished Saturday’s race in just over an hour – which is exactly what she hoped for. Pelletier says if she can do it, anyone can.
“Now that I have a second chance, I’m trying to get the old me back. I have that chance now, which I’m very excited about.”