“True strength is the ability to go through life each day accomplishing the impossible and doing what no one thought you could!”- Nishan Panwar

Every day I achieve this type of strength. When I was born my parents were told I had a number of heart defects that would kill me without multiple surgeries. Basically, the right side of my heart never fully developed so I couldn’t get oxygen in my blood. The first thing people said I couldn’t do, was live. I had the first of four heart surgeries when I was a day old. Little did anyone know that the heart condition wouldn’t be the only thing I would have to overcome.

Most kids who have the same first heart surgery that I did spend anywhere from four days to week in the hospital. I was there for seventy-seven days. Of course, I don’t remember any of this, but my parents, doctors and nurses all tell me that I really put up a fight to live during that first hospital stay. I had numerous complications, including recurrent infections. I couldn’t have any food, not even formula, so I left the hospital weighing a lot less than did when I was born. I had repeated blood transfusions, they thought they would have to remove my colon, I had IV lines all over my body, at times even in my head, and to this day, my mom says it took a couple of nurses to get me out of the bed with all my lines and into her lap.

When I finally got home, I had to see a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, and a nutritionist several times a week. I had what is called “failure to thrive”. We also had Early Intervention several times a week because I was behind in physical development. I couldn’t crawl, sit up, pull up, or even walk in the normal time frames. I had ongoing physical therapy until I was in kindergarten.

Growing up, I wanted to be like everyone else. But due to my heart condition, I couldn’t. I struggled with fitting in because I couldn’t run, play a sport, or be outside for too long on really hot or cold days because it could hurt my heart. I was often out of school because of my weak immune system and the inability to fight off illnesses. I would ask my parents sometimes if I could go join a soccer team or play softball and the answer was always no. Then, one day I found my passion and one of my favorite things to do in the whole world, dance. I love dance because I’m never judged for the big scar in the middle of my chest or because I couldn’t run and play like everyone else. I found people who really accepted and loved me for me.

My scar was my biggest issue growing up and still is sometimes to this day. I never felt beautiful due to the size of it and that it is right in the middle of my chest. But one day, it clicked. My scar symbolizes my strength, my beauty, and that I am a miracle. I would try to hide my scar every day when I was younger, by not going swimming or not wearing low cut shirts but now, it does not bother me, as much. My scar has made me who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder of who I am and what I have overcome.

Yes, the first few years of my life were hard, and some days are still hard, but my heart condition has given me a sense of strength that most people in this world don’t have. It was a tough road and always will be, but I have proved so many people wrong by dancing, finding the most amazing friends, wearing my scar like the badge of honor that it is, thriving in college, and simply embracing this life for all that it has given me. I am a heart warrior and I truly am doing the impossible.