In late October 2014, Cherie received the call she had been waiting for: A donor heart was available. She returned to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia to undergo a transplant. But it did not go as planned. Instead, a harrowing turn of events occurred when the donor heart didn’t start right away, and Cherie was again placed on the same temporary life support, ECMO, that saved her years before. The heart recovered quickly and began functioning, and the life support was removed a little over a week later.
After spending three months recovering in the hospital, Cherie returned home to Connecticut and slowly restarted her life. She began an exercise regimen. “With my new heart, I could run where I never could before,” says Cherie, who is also back to running her own digital branding firm that offers client consultations and online personal branding training.
Cherie says the past seven years have had a profound impact on her outlook, and she credits the care she received at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia with putting her on the path to good health.
“From the first day I came in, dead on arrival, myself and my family have never seen such exceptional nursing care,” says Cherie. “It’s hard for me to even share it without tearing up. Everybody in that cardiothoracic intensive care unit treated me like family from the moment I came in there. And I’ll never forget, one of the nurses said to my mother, ‘I know she’s your daughter and I know you’re terrified, but she’s my daughter now and it’s my responsibility to keep her alive.’ I get goose bumps every time I think of that.”
Once shy, Cherie says she now lives boldly. Before, she never tried to lead people. Now, she stands in front of international crowds speaking about her experience. “My talk is called ‘How to Walk Through Fire.’ It’s about teaching people how to bounce back, how to be resilient, and how to find peace and love for yourself amidst the fire.”
In May, she traveled to Italy to share her story of triumph at a business retreat with 50 other entrepreneurs. “It’s a miracle my heart was given enough time to rest on the LVAD, buying me time as I waited on the transplant list for a donor heart. There are no words to describe the gift of the LVAD device,” she tells people. “It’s the reason I’m healthy and able to live out my purpose around the world.”
Cherie is growing her brand, Live Big Be Happy, into an inspirational platform, encouraging people to live their best life. The platform will showcase her upcoming podcast show, interviews with special guests, speaking events, books, articles, and resources.
She is also a contributor and partner at Influencive, where she shares her message of hope with millions of readers.
Soon, she plans to write a letter to her heart-transplant donor family to thank them for the gift of life.
“Lives are being impacted through me thanks to the generosity of their loved one’s heart,” she says. “Any lives I touch are touched by everyone who helped save my life.”