Thank You, Oprah

November 24, 2008 8:21 AM CT

Dear Oprah,

Now that it’s Thanksgiving week and I am counting my blessings, I simply must send you my thanks. You see, you have touched my life in so many ways, and I’d like to share one particular story with you.

When I arrived recently in Macon, Georgia, to do some community and staff programs for the local hospital’s heart institute, I felt uniquely inspired and moved as I settled into my room at the 1842 Inn. This place felt so empowering and engaging, but I wasn’t sure why.

Later that evening, I found the answer. While visiting in the parlor with other guests and staff, I discovered that when you were in Macon this year for your giveaway show, you used the room in which I was staying for your makeup room. Your glow and aura remained, and strengthened as staff members shared their special Oprah memories with me.

I walked in the footsteps of an exceptional woman who inspires everyone she meets. She teaches each of us how to give back and how to add meaning to our lives. Oprah, this is what you have taught so many of us to do and is what you were doing in Macon before my arrival there.

I give back, too. It all started in early 2003 when I almost died from heart disease. I didn’t have the traditional risk factors—I was simply overstressed and overweight. Since most women were not aware that heart disease is their #1 killer and that stroke is #3, it became my mission to tell them. So I wroteA Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life to give women the tools and a road map to make changes.

With this passion in my heart I started giving back in other ways, too. I started helping those with atrial fibrillation, which is a leading cause of stroke. You see, heart disease is forever, and once you have it, you’re more at risk for more heart disease. So in late 2003, I had blood clots and a near stroke, from atrial fibrillation, the most common irregular heartbeat. My stroke risk was so high that I couldn’t go anywhere by myself.

Atrial fibrillation took a huge physical, emotional, and financial toll, not just on me, but on my family, too. When a new surgery came along that could cure my afib, I jumped at the chance and have been afib-free for more than 3 years. I am thankful every day to have my life back.

Once I was afib-free, I couldn’t just stand on the sidelines and watch others suffer with this potentially life-threatening condition. That’s just not me. So I created an atrial fibrillation patient resource,, to help those who were struggling, like I had been, and their families. We’re for patients by patients, and seek to improve their quality of life, help them partner with their healthcare providers, and wipe out afib-related strokes. I feel blessed to make a difference for others.

So, on that beautiful Fall morning, as I left the 1842 Inn, I walked down the back hallway. I paused for a moment and looked at your photo and silently thanked you for inspiring me and for role modeling for so many of us as to how to give back for the blessings that we have received.

I believe that there are no accidents in life, and I feel blessed from almost dying from heart disease and from having a near stroke because they let me help others. I believe that I walked in your footsteps to inspire and direct me to reach even higher. It was as though I felt a touch on my shoulder and heard a whisper that said “You can do more.” You inspired me to reset my sights, and my goal now is to impact ten million people, and their families, before my days are through.

Thank you, Oprah, for inspiring and guiding me to walk in your footsteps. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Mellanie True Hills