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Community Advocates

In order to stay up to date on the latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies, and how to cope with prostate cancer every day, brings you frequent articles, blogs, opinions, and advice from leading patient advocates and professional medical experts.

Current advocates

Amber Blackburn

Amber Blackburn is a Registered Nurse turned blogger and patient advocate for those with chronic illnesses. She was forced to leave the workforce after ten years as a nurse; this gave her the patient medical experience and perspective. She was able to work with heart patients for the majority of her career. And has a passion for helping others. Read more.

John Bottrell

Hi. I’m John, I’ve been a respiratory therapist for over 20 years. A good part of my job is taking care of people with heart failure. So, I have quite a bit of experience with heart failure and it’s affect of people. Read more.

Bouba Diemé

Bouba Diemé (aka Heartofagiant) comes from Mali and Senegal (Africa). He now lives in Boston with his loving wife, Desiree and their three children – two of whom are toddler twins. Read more.

Daniel Freeman

I come from a long line of male family members who have suffered from cardiovascular disease. My grandfather and those preceding him did not make it past 60. Fortunately for my father, uncle, and me, modern medicine has allowed us the opportunity to discover our heart problems before too late, make the needed repairs, recover, and eventually thrive. Read more.

Clair Gardiner

I am a single mom to a fire cracker little girl residing in the tip of Africa. I am also a sister, a daughter and friend. Already forming part of our plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis communities. Read more.

Christopher Gehrke

Christopher Gehrke is a survivor of two heart attacks, both of which occurred by the age of 35. He has been living with heart failure since 2015. Since his diagnosis, he has co-created a private Facebook group for caregivers and people living with heart failure. Read more.

Alin Gragossian

Dr. Alin Gragossian is currently an Emergency Medicine resident physician in Harrisburg, PA. In December 2018, in the middle of her medical training, she suddenly became very sick. While she was hospitalized with this mystery illness, her heart basically stopped working on her. Read more.

Donna Hacker Smith

During their marriage, Donna learned about heart disease and congestive heart failure, from which her husband suffered and which ultimately led to his death. She will be participating in the Heart Failure Community as a writer focusing on caregiving, and also as a community moderator. Read more.

Kelli Hicks

Kelli Lynn Hicks is a 43-year-old wife, and mother who was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in 2015. After the initial diagnosis Kelli learned that her heart was functioning at 25% it was evident that her health had been declining unbeknownst to her. What followed was a series of cardiology appointments with numerous specialists, hospitalizations and her life was forever changed. Read more.

Will Jones

Despite health challenges like coronary artery disease, diagnosed in 2010, and prostate cancer, diagnosed in 2017, Will enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle that includes hiking, backpacking, rock climbing and playing golf. He is also active as a volunteer in his community and a regular contributor to “Journal Plus: The Magazine of the Central Coast.” Read more.

Alyssa Parete

Alyssa Parete is 25-year-old heart transplant recipient who received her new heart at the age of 8 years old. When she was 2 weeks old, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. She received treatment at a local hospital until she was 7 years old. Read more.

Karen Parete

Karen is a mother of two daughters both diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, Alyssa 25 and Nicole 21. Karen brings us her perspective on accepting, absorbing, and ultimately navigating the challenges of a family with children who have severe medical needs. Alyssa her oldest daughter was born with idiopathic cardiomyopathy and went into heart failure at two weeks old. Read more.

Samantha Stinocher

Samantha Stinocher is a Postpartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM) survivor and mother to twin boys. Since her diagnosis in 2015, she has worked to bring awareness to the condition through social media and collaborations with other influencers. Read more.

Maggie Teliska Parke

Maggie Parke, Ph.D., is a SCAD and heart attack survivor living with her husband in Boston, MA. She is a co-founder of a private Congestive Heart Failure group on Facebook and, a website to further support the heart failure community with information put together by the group. Read more.

Teresa Wright-Johnson

A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, Teresa has an extensive background in criminal justice and social services. She is a retired Parole Officer and uses her life lessons to uplift, empower and inspire. Teresa truly believes that where there is life there is hope and with hope anything is possible. She aspires to be the light that shines in darkness. Read more.

Regular contributors and moderators at are offered compensation for their contributions to the community. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us at [email protected]