Elzarie Devenish, a social worker and resident of Dan Pienaar in Bloemfontein, has made it her duty to educate the community about Pulmonary Hypertension (PH), a rare disease her brother Gerrie Booysen was diagnosed with in 2009. This month is PH Awareness Month.
“As a family, we knew nothing about the disease and my brother was as brave as ever. Not once did he let anyone know that he was scared or that he was uncertain about what the next step would be. It felt like forever until the final call was made by the doctor who informed us that it was Idiopathic Primary Pulmonary Hypertension,” said Devenish.
PH is a disease that affects the arteries of the lungs and it can strike regardless of age or gender. People affected with this disease, suffer from continuous high blood pressure in the lungs, which results in an enlarged heart and can lead to heart failure. PH can be difficult to diagnose in a routine medical examination because the most common symptoms of PH, such as breathlessness, fatigue and dizziness, are also associated with many other conditions.
“As a member of the PH community, I have learned that this disease is difficult to cope with if you are alone, but there are doctors, medical specialists, and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of South Africa that are willing to help you as a newly diagnosed patient,” said Devenish.
Devenish’s brother has been living with this disease for the past 12 years and according to her, he is changing lives every day as they continue to pray for a cure for the disease. “His message is: ‘live life to its fullest, cherish your loved ones and make every day special’.”