Heart Woes and Fortitude: A Story of Three Marathons After Three Heart Surgeries

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite numerous health challenges related to his heart, Justin Cadelago not only effectively managed his condition, but turned it into a superpower, showcasing resilience and taking his wellness journey as an opportunity for growth.
  • In an attempt to adopt healthier lifestyle practices, Cadelago started reducing his meat consumption, shifted completely to a plant-based diet, quit drinking, and prioritized sleep.
  • After picking up and being advised to quit boxing due to health concerns, he adopted running, which reduced his fear and anxiety and helped him view life positively.
  • Cadelago completed three marathons in a single year in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, showing that sporting achievements can be reached even with such health adversities.

Justin Cadelago spent the initial 29 years of his life relatively unconcerned about his heart, recalling only amusing tidbits like annual visits to his pediatric heart doctor. Born with a bicuspid aortic valve coarctation, a narrower-than-typical aorta, his congenital condition was treated with open-heart surgery when he was only a week old.

Early Challenges and Struggles

Post-surgery, his life was expected to follow a calm trajectory, necessitating another operation only when he outgrew the patch installed during the first one. Cadelago’s performance post-surgery was so impressive that he was permitted to engage in all sports, save for intense weightlifting.

Despite his interests in baseball and football, his true athletic love was basketball. After a stint playing basketball casually at Santa Barbara collegiate, he relocated to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career at a media firm.

As life progressed smoothly in Los Angeles with a flourishing social circle and promising career, Cadelago’s routine medical checkup changed his life. His cardiologist discovered an aortic aneurysm – a balloon-like bulge—a result likely due to his congenital defect.

New Discoveries and Life Changes

Strongly impacted by the news that his previous surgeries had not entirely corrected his heart abnormalities, Cadelago underwent another operation. After the surgery and a five-day hospital stay, he spent a few weeks recovering with the help of friends and family, building up his strength by walking up to 6 miles daily.

Moving to the Big Apple

Within two months, Cadelago had regained his vitality, and he seized an opportunity to relocate to New York City—an adventure he had always wanted to experience. However, with the move came anxiety about his health, leading him to multiple emergency room trips with concerns about elevated heart rates.

Healthy Lifestyle, New Horizons

Once settled in New York and confident about his health, Cadelago adopted healthier lifestyle choices, reduced his meat consumption, and picked up boxing as a hobby. On the brink of turning 35 in 2021, he transitioned to a completely plant-based diet, quit drinking, and prioritized sleep. His wellness journey seemed perfectly on track, and he felt fantastic.

Unexpected Setbacks

However, one Thanksgiving morning, after his usual gym visit and preparing for festivities, Cadelago was struck by an unexpected health scare. He had experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA) – a mini-stroke. Despite the significant shock of the event, no cause was determined even after extensive tests. After starting on several preventive medications, Cadelago was advised to quit boxing and encouraged to adopt slower-paced running instead.

Finding Solace in Running

Though initially dismissive of running, ranking it tedious and dull, Cadelago gave it a shot. The surge of excitement after completing 3 miles, often termed the “runner’s high,” endeared running to him. The activity aided in reducing his fear and anxiety, helping him view life through the lens of gratitude rather than victim-status.

From Adversity to Achieving Marathon Goals

Encouraged by the positive impacts of running and his supportive community, Cadelago decided to participate in marathons. In one year, he completed three marathons in the cities he called home—San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

Health Challenges: An Unexpected Superpower

After crossing the New York City marathon’s finish line—a race he ran on the American Heart Association’s team—he viewed his health challenges as his superpower. This journey has allowed him to connect with others on a deeper level and has given him the ability to support others, see things differently, and experience life’s unique aspects.

His mother, Victoria Wells, affirmed that the health scare had made her son introspect personally and professionally, driving him to foster authenticity and commitment to making a change.

This story showcases resilience and hope, reminding us that health challenges can be a catalyst, propelling us toward wellness and growth.

By The Athletarian News Team.

Diana Wells

Hello, wonderful readers! I'm Diana Wells, a writer, dedicated mother of two, and a passionate blogger with an emphasis on life’s most intricate journeys. Amidst the chaos of daily life and parenting, I've found solace and purpose in penning down experiences, particularly in the realms of health and mental wellbeing.Being a mother has not just blessed me with joy, but it has also opened my eyes to the complexities of mental health. From postpartum challenges to the daily stresses that many of us face, I understand the importance of nurturing our minds alongside our bodies.My writings aim to shed light on these often overlooked aspects of health. Whether you're seeking guidance, a sense of community, or simply looking to understand more about mental health, I'm here to provide a fresh, empathetic perspective. Let's navigate the winding paths of our minds together, finding strength, understanding, and hope in each other's stories.Thank you for allowing me to share my passion with you. Let's prioritize our mental wellbeing and celebrate the small victories along the way!
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