For everyone reading this, there is a time and a place where the final chapter of your story will be told, you will breathe your last and you will move on.
It can be a morbid thought, staring at your own mortality like that. But where there is despair, there is also hope. There is the unending promise of all the moments ahead until that final moment. It’s only in reflecting on that time that we truly see the joy in living them. For these three men, that abstract concept of finality is very real. Each of them have, in their own way, reached the very edge of that precipice, that yawning eternity of the void. And each of them survived, turning that moment where they glimpsed their own finality into something extraordinary. They’ve pressed on with a renewed passion for the life they’ve been given. But first, they had to survive.
When the Southern Coast Heart Ball convenes on Feb. 3 at Hilton Head Island’s Westin Resort & Spa, it will mark the culmination of a long journey for Landon Peacock.
Serving as the chair of the Open Your Heart campaign has allowed Peacock to open up as well, finally sharing the story of a harrowing event that he has remained largely silent on for seven years. In all that time, he’s avoided talking about that Christmas morning when his heart failed him and he glimpsed his own mortality.
“I sort of cringed whenever someone told that story about me because I just hated hearing it,” he said. “But if I can put that event to good use and raise money and awareness for this great charity then that’s something I should do.”
It’s hard to blame him for not wanting to share his story until now. As an avid runner and a health-conscious 21-year-old, Peacock was by all accounts the picture of vitality. Doctors had blamed nagging chest pains over the course of the year prior to the event on pleurisy, an inflammation of the layer of tissue around the lungs.
"On Christmas morning, my chest pains reached a point where I vomited and almost passed out."
He treated it with Ibuprofen and rest, thinking it was handled until he nearly collapsed Christmas morning at his parent’s Bluffton home.
“My dad took me straight to the hospital; I’m pretty sure he was going double the speed limit all the way to Savannah,” he said. “The only thing I remember is I passed out when I got to the hospital.”
What doctors thought had been pleurisy turned out to be a 90 percent blockage of his LAD artery. Several more doctor visits and a trip to the Mayo Clinic determined the root cause: a rare clotting disorder called Anti-Phospholipid Syndrome.
WHAT MY HEART ATTACK FELT LIKE For almost an entire year prior to my heart attack I was in and out of the hospital with chest pains no one could diagnose correctly. It turned out to be severe angina, which typically precedes a cardiac event. On Christmas morning, my chest pains reached a point where I vomited and almost passed out. My parents rushed me to St. Joseph's hospital where anEKG determined I was having a heart attack. That night, doctors placed a stint in my blocked LAD artery, but still couldn’t determine what had caused the event. Mayo Clinic eventually diagnosed me with a blood disease called Antiphospholipid Syndrome, which causes my blood to clot more than it should. I have been on blood thinners since then and have not had further issues. AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION This year's Heart Ball of the Southern Coast will be held February 3, 2018 at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. Purchase tickets at SouthernCoastHeartBall.org.
Now on blood thinners, Peacock says he’s retained around 90 percent of his original heart function, thanks to his healthy lifestyle and young age. But the memory of that Christmas morning remains.
“The terror and pain that people go through when they go through a cardiac event… it was like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” said Peacock. “It’s a feeling where it’s just hard to come back from.”
But Peacock has, at last, come back and is ready to share his story in the hopes of saving lives.