Heart Awareness Month is over, we can stop talking about CHD right? No, of course not there is so much more work to do to raise awareness. Most people who know about CHD have been thrust into the world of heart defects with a child’s diagnosis or their own diagnosis. It’s incredibly traumatic for many reasons but primarily because it is something we never heard of. Why is that?
Congenital Heart Defects aren’t known to most people because there are so many different types and combinations. On top of the variety, when we talk to people about CHD sometimes the umbrella term of CHD never comes up. I’m guilty of it too. When I talk to people about my son I try to break it down to why his heart is different and sometimes I never say “CHD”. I’m trying to make is so someone who has no medical background can understand. If I say things like single ventricle or Pulmonary Atresia they have no idea what I’m talking about. I tend to keep it simple, I bet most people do the same thing.
If CHD is ever to become a household term we all have to make more of an effort in the branding of the condition. For those outside of the marketing world, branding is when you give something an identity. When you hear of other diseases, for example cancer no matter what kind of cancer, you have a base understanding of what that means. There is a cluster of cancer cells growing and causing major problems in the patient. You may not know the severity but you know the person who has it will be fighting to get well and sadly not all will win that fight.
When most people hear CHD or Congenital Heart Defect they don’t have a base knowledge to work from. They don’t know how common it is and they don’t know how many kids we lose because of it. When I speak with people I try to assume they have no idea what I’m talking about. It allows me to give them the basics and most critical information. If they show an interest I’ll go into more detail.
I enjoy talking about my son and CHD. He is my third child and he has changed the way I parent all of them. He has made me realize how I need to enjoy every moment. He has shown me how strong they can be at a very young age. He has inspired me to help raise awareness of CHD. Together we can let everyone know what CHD is and how they can help.
Don’t miss opportunities. Get involved with the CHD charities. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Wear CHD merchandise. Make a donation big or small to a foundation. Utilize your contacts for sponsorships and donations. And when you talk to anyone about the diagnosis of the CHD person in your life don’t forget to tell them it is a congenital heart defect. It’s all about the branding.