I Became a Fighter
By Anne Accardo
I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. I just made the big 40 in June and I could not be more excited! My 30s were a mix of the absolute worst and unbelievably best times of my life.
I was diagnosed with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome in 2008, at age 33. My fast paced, crazy but still wonderful, post Hurricane Katrina life came to a screeching halt. My entire aorta dissected one night while out to dinner. I was airlifted to Houston where my amazing doctors saved my life. Lucky for me, there is a geneticist there who works closely with the cardiovascular surgeons who deal with rare cases like mine. She came in, took one look at me and said, “I believe you possibly have Loeys-Dietz Syndrome.”
Sure enough, after several months of waiting for test results, I learned that I have LDS. What do I do now? Well, I became a fighter. I have had nine major surgeries from 2008 to 2013; each one making me stronger. My life is no longer fast paced. However, it has become much more fulfilling. I did resign from the full-time position that I had at the time. I am doing things that I enjoy now. I am a consultant with Rodan & Fields. I love to go out with friends and spend time with my family. I love to exercise (within my limitations). I also take care of the home I have built together with my wonderful partner, Tomas! I have formed amazing friendships with extraordinary people, who are part of our LDS family. I held a “LIVE” event in 2011, which raised $11,000 for the LDSF. Tomas also raised over $6,000 dedicating his Ironman triathlon to the LDSF just last year! We hope to soon start planning our next fundraiser for 2016.
I have to say, the next part of my story is my favorite. The best outcome I could have from such a life changing event. When I was 19 years old, I had a beautiful baby girl, whom I gave up for adoption. So, my first thought after my diagnosis was that I had to let the family that adopted her know so she could be tested. I contacted the attorneys that handled the adoption in hopes that they would be able to locate them. Her amazing family lived in the New Orleans area. But after Hurricane Katrina, they moved to Jackson, Mississippi. From what I learned, they were surprised, but grateful. I say they are amazing because they were also happy to be back in contact with me. It took months to catch up. One of the greatest blessings during my surgeries and recoveries, were all of the letters and pictures of my daughter that they continued to send. Don’t get me wrong, the support I received from all of my family and friends was overwhelming; especially everything my parents did for me. But there was something special about receiving the letters and pictures. This gave me more than a purpose!
I started communicating directly with my daughter and in the spring of 2014, I met her face to face! I hugged my gorgeous daughter and her amazingly unselfish family. It has been such an amazing experience. We are all family now! I am beyond blessed to have my daughter in my life! She is now 20 and attends Ole Miss. She does not have LDS!
I have always said that everything happens for a reason. I would go through it all over again just to be where I am today!