Grab the tissues. Don't ask questions. Just do it.
Paula McCammon is a single mother of a 6-year-old daughter Emma Rose Joy, and for the past three months, Paula has been fighting to stay alive with the help of an artificial heart which she has named "Stanley."
McCammon has lived with a donor heart since she was 24 years old, after facing a multitude of heart problems. Now, at 40 years old, Paula's heart has failed and she is depending on a mechanical heart as she waits for another transplant.
And even with all of this strife, she manages to remain positive. "I try to do something positive every day. I use Facebook and FaceTime with friends and family. I get at least two presents a day. Friends I haven't seen in 20 years pop in. The family brings Emma down every two weeks," she writes on Today.
"It's all about how you wake up in the morning and accept things. Being negative is not going to get you very far. I am not a religious person. God isn't going to save me. I rely on myself to accept what's going on and push through."
McCammon goes into detailing her journey through diagnoses—from getting mononucleosis and myocarditis at 16 years old to cardiomyopathy when she went off to college, until the moment when she was 21 years old, and doctors began talking to her and her family about getting a heart transplant.
"I needed to have a younger person with a smaller heart, and they found a really great match—a 19-year-old boy who got in a motorcycle accident. On June 11, 1999, I had my first heart transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center," she wrote.
"Honestly, I lived a normal life, went back to college and chef school and was working at the same time. It was my first real job."
Despite her heart problems, McCammon was able to give birth to a healthy baby girl at 34 years old. However, in March of this year, things began going downhill.
"The University of Washington denied me a transplant because I had had an aortic aneurysm in the heart I was born with. They said it was too high risk. So I went to Cedars-Sinai in California, where they do the most heart transplants in the world."
She continues, "Everyone in Marrowstone knows me and my story. They are making sure Emma's life goes on, even though I am not there. My fiancé Dave has taken over the parenting, and between my friends and my sister Julie, I am getting amazing support.
"Emma is really a compassionate and nice, easy-going child, but she misses not being at home. I have scars all over my chest, so she knows about my health. I keep it real, but not with a lot of detail so as not to scare her. She needs to be brave if anything ever happens to me."
In June, Paula was given a small artificial heart that was approved in Europe, but not in the United States. Ava's Heart foundation is helping her with housing in California, which she notes is "so important. They won't put you on a transplant list unless you have aftercare support and a place to live."
She concludes, "I know it's going to be a miracle to be back with my daughter in Washington, but I believe in positivity. Something my mom taught me when she was alive is to always think the best will happen. I have the most beautiful child to live for and I know what it is to live 16 years care-free. I'll get to do that again.
I have so much support in my community and my family, it would be impossible to be depressed."