Keri Behles’ Health Class was asked to write an essay about a health-related organization that they deemed worthy of donations from her High School.  Keri chose the Myocarditis Foundation to honor her fellow-classmate and friend Rhett Lundy, who had passed away from Myocarditis last year.  Keri’s essay won and the students donated their own money and raised almost $200 for the Myocarditis Foundation.  Please read Keri’s touching and informative essay below.


Keri Behles
Keri Behles

The Myocarditis Foundation

By Keri Behles

You are at your best friend’s funeral. Your friend was perfectly healthy, besides a heart condition which they had medication for, got good grades, and never did any drugs, so how could something like this happen as if out of no where? When the autopsy results came back it was discovered that your best friend had myocarditis. Your best friend had been misdiagnosed with a common heart condition. You just lost your best friend to a curable disease, a disease that is rare and often misdiagnosed. Myocarditis foundation has been funding research that could’ve saved your best friend’s life if more people knew about the disease and donated towards research for it.

Myocarditis, by definition, is a disease marked by inflammation and damage of the heart muscle. Myocarditis, although curable, is a very deadly and terrifying disease as it, more often than not, has no symptoms. So someone standing right next to you could have myocarditis and not even be aware of it, they could even believe that they have a completely different type of heart defect or disease. Myocarditis can only be identified by an electrocardiogram or by blood tests that detect heart injury. Research is still being done to find the best way to diagnose and treat myocarditis. So far, researchers have been able to discover some of the causes of this disease, which are Lyme disease, contagious diseases, cocaine use, exposure to toxic agents, such as metal poisons, or snake or spider bites, and the most common cause, upper respiratory tract infections. Although a majority of myocarditis cases don’t show symptoms, those who do will, most commonly, have a shortness of breath during exercise or exertion. Other symptoms may include fatigue, heart palpitations, chest pain or pressure, swelling in the legs. A rare symptom of myocarditis is a sudden loss of consciousness that may be due to abnormal heart rhythms. Myocarditis is most commonly treated with medications used to treat heart failure, however there is no permanent cure, nor is there any way to prevent contraction of this disease. This disease still needs research on prevention, diagnosing, and treatment if we want to gain the upper hand against this disease.

The Myocarditis Foundation is dedicated to “increase awareness of this disease among medical professionals and the public in order to advance the development of accurate, rapid diagnostic methods and safe, effective therapies that minimize or eliminate myocarditis progression to heart dysfunction, failure, and sudden death.” The money donated to this foundation will go towards research focused on finding better and safer treatment options, more efficient diagnostic tools, ways to prevent contraction of the illness, and making the public aware of this disease. The research this foundation funds could save thousands of peoples lives. By being able to diagnose patients properly and correctly, giving them specialized treatment, and working on finding a cure this disease can become nonexistent.

Rhett Lundy
Rhett Lundy

Last year, at South Elgin High School, a student died, three days before his birthday, from myocarditis. His name was Rhett and he was a shy boy who played snare drum on the drumline. His family was completely unaware of his heart condition. Rhett was only fourteen years old when he was killed by myocarditis. He still had a whole life to live when it was suddenly stolen from him. He wanted to ask the girl he liked out, go to prom, graduate high school, go to college, and live his life, but unfortunately his chances to do these opportunities was taken away from him by a disease he had no idea he had.

Some critics might believe that the American Cancer Society is more important than the Myocarditis Foundation because it affects more people, but I would argue that although more people are affected by cancer, thanks to foundations like American Cancer Society, many cancers can now be cured, where as myocarditis is a disease that still needs research in order to just simply diagnose it correctly. Most cancers, thankfully, can be easily diagnosed through specific tests, however myocarditis has to be tested with very precise and complicated tests, and even then finding the disease is very difficult, and it is often times confused with various different heart related diseases. Although the Myocarditis Foundation still needs a large amount of research toward the disease myocarditis, more people are diagnosed with cancer than myocarditis, so the rate of death is higher than the rare myocarditis. However, even if the rate of death from cancer is higher than myocarditis, the rate of survival is much higher as well, and the long-term problems are less severe than myocarditis, as a person with myocarditis could have a chronically enlarged heart, and may need a heart transplant.

Myocarditis, although a rare disease, is a very random, invisible to the human eye disease that could kill someone before they even know they have. It is a contagious disease that can kill someone suddenly, without any form of symptoms. Unfortunately, this disease is hard to diagnose correctly from the lack of symptoms, and does not have any specialized treatment, nor a cure or any form of prevention.


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