Interviews From the Heart- Molly Hemphill

Name: Molly Hemphill

Age: 32 

City, State: Beaverton, Oregon

What’s Your Heart Disease Survival Story

At 25 years old, my life changed overnight. I was struggling to fall asleep, unsure why, when my heart began to pound faster and faster and faster. It was 180 beats per minute and not slowing down. As I wrapped my arms around my toddler son before heading to the hospital, I feared it would be my final hug. I was rushed to the hospital, where my heart stopped three times and was shocked to get it back into normal rhythm. I was naive to think I could walk away from that experience being the same person I was before.

I spent the next three years fighting for my life, as I overcame post-traumatic stress disorder, learned how to live again and let go of the person I once had been.

While I was sick, I watched a climbing film on my television, presented by Reel Rock, featuring Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra. Both men were competing to be the first person to complete a route, called “La Dura Dura.” They put every part of themselves into this project. They fought for that climb like they were fighting for their life. I was so inspired. I knew when I was healthy again, I would have to climb. I hoped that would be my “someday,” and knew I would at least need to try.

But during my struggle toward health, I lost my marriage, my friends and a lot of family. How would I find the courage to rock climb on my own? How would I find the strength to do any of this? I was frail, weak and barely able to walk on my own for long distances.

By 2015, I was healthy enough to start going on hikes alone. I was so scared and worried that something bad would happen to me. I didn’t trust my heart, myself or my abilities. In my mind, I was still that frail person, sitting on the couch, watching everyone else live their life.

My first summit alone was Spencer Butte in Eugene, Oregon. I almost turned around part way up, because I could feel my heart pounding. My driver for that hike was the need to capture a video on the summit, wishing my then 88-year-old Grandma a happy birthday. She had hiked all over the Northwest with my Grandpa throughout their marriage. Due to deteriorating health, it had been years since she was able to get out for a hike. Although this particular trail head is basically in her backyard, she had never actually been on this hike. That is how I decided this summit would be the perfect one to record my message. Not knowing how much longer she had, I knew this was potentially my last chance to make my way up.

I wasn’t fearless, I just did it scared.

Upon reaching the top, I looked around and was completely blown away by its beauty. I made it! My heart was strong enough to hike this steep trail head. I had completely forgotten about the 10 times I stopped along the way. I forgot about how many times I wanted to turn back.

I decided that if I couldn’t beat fear, I was going to do it scared. There was too much life out there to live.

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