For Nicole Blalock, hand-to-hand and heart-to-heart took on a new meaning
Nearly 110,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. For Nicole Blalock (Delta Beta – Texas A&M Commerce), this became her reality in November 2020. After a health scare put her in the hospital, she was added to the list of thousands in need of a new heart.
As a collegian going through recruitment in 1989, Nicole was drawn to Alpha Phi for their dedication to women’s heart health. Having watched her father struggle with heart disease, Nicole knew she was genetically predisposed to having heart problems. She understood the importance of women caring for their hearts throughout their lives: “They always say [heart disease] is the silent killer of women because they do not have the same symptoms as men.” Joining Alpha Phi fortified Nicole’s desire to pay attention to her own heart health, as well as that of other women in her life.
Several challenges came Nicole’s way by the end of 2020. Though she “felt a little more tired than usual and had no energy”, she attributed that to the bustle of everyday life, a move between houses, and stress. By Thanksgiving, Nicole had a stroke. Upon further investigation at the hospital, it was discovered that a viral infection had been ravaging her heart and it was no longer pumping as it should. At this point, her doctors informed Nicole that there was only one solution: a heart transplant.
In March 2021, Nicole got the call she had been dreaming of. A donor match became available, and she was going to get a new heart. This surgery was daunting and there would be many more challenges to come, including a required long-term near the hospital where her transplant team was located. Upon getting the phone call that her transplant would be happening, Nicole’s Alpha Phi sisters jumped into action, starting their own share of fundraisers for Nicole and beginning a Forget Me Not Grant application.
Created by sisters for sisters, the Forget Me Not Fund exists to provide short-term emergency financial assistance to members who are in need. Spearheaded by another chapter sister who had benefitted from a Forget Me Not Grant in the past, an application was submitted on Nicole’s behalf to aid her during this unexpected time of distress. Nicole was encouraged by her Delta Beta sisters to let them submit this application, because “Alpha Phi is all about women’s heart health, and this is your heart. [Our sisterhood] can help you”. This would help to offset some of the costs associated with Nicole’s transplant, including medical bills and nearby housing post-transplant.
“We are a sisterhood to support one another, and sometimes we need to lean on our sisters. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help through the Forget Me Not Grant. Your sisterhood wants to help and the fund exists for just that”. – Nicole Blalock
Asking for help from others is not always easy, but having the support from her immediate family and her Alpha Phi family helped get Nicole through this tough time. Nicole mentions that she “does not know if she could have made it through this transplant journey without [her] sisters”. When her husband Scott needed to go to any given appointment, an Alpha Phi sister was by Nicole’s side. “They were behind me, stayed with me after being in the hospital, and got together to be there for me in any way I needed”, Nicole said.
Today, Nicole is almost one-year post-transplant, and her heart is strong. The Forget Me Not Grant she received removed the pressure of not knowing how she could afford her surgery and alleviated worries about the transplant process.
If you or a sister you know are in immediate financial distress and want to learn more about the Forget Me Not Fund, visit our website at www.alphaphifounda.wpengine.com/vital-programs/assistance-grants/.
Forget Me Not Grant Program
Alpha Phis are sisters for life, supporting one another through every life stage and helping each other in times of need. Alpha Phi Foundation exemplifies this life-long support through the Forget Me Not Grant Fund, an assistance grant designed to provide temporary, short-term, financial support for an event or unforeseeable circumstance. These grants offer Alpha Phis in need the greatest gift of all: the knowledge that their sisters care and are always there to help. Learn more about the Forget Me Not Grant Program.