Patient Success Week: Tammy Pilcher & Cris Dykeman, Our Community Rockstars!

By Adam Pick on July 16, 2015

I’ll admit it. I love our community. I love seeing patients inspire each other. I love seeing patients educate each other. And, I loooooooooove when patients use the community in ways that I never imagined.

For example, some patients have Spring Break reunions in Florida.



Other patients connect in the hospital after meeting in our community.



Heck! Sometimes, I simply can’t resist the opportunity to meet patients from our community.



So… As “2015 Patient Success Week” continues, I wanted to shine a big spotlight on two patients who inspire us with their words and their pictures.

Those two patients are Tammy Pilcher and Cris Dykeman.

First Community Rockstar… Cris Dykeman

One patient who has used our community in a special way is Cris Dykeman from Savannah, Georgia. Cris had an aortic valve replacement and aneurysm surgery on October 30, 2014. While Cris, like many patients, had some ups-and-downs in the recovery process, her upbeat attitude has always come across in her words and in her… pictures.

Yes, Cris has a great smile. But, Cris did something interesting with her pictures posted at the community. Cris started sharing photos and photo collages to document her recovery in a unique week-by-week, month-by-month way.




I’ll never forget when I saw the picture of Cris getting ready to leave the hospital.  It was the photo above (and a few other pictures from our community) that got me thinking about forming the ‘Smiling Scar Selfie Team’ which has become such a big hit at our Facebook page.

Fyi… This was just the beginning for Cris. Every week and then every month, Cris would post a picture that made me think, “That’s great!”

For example, here’s a photo update from Cris at week 2:




Then came the photo collages. Yes, photo collages. Here’s an example of Cris celebrating 6 weeks post-op at Disney.




In April, Cris posted another photo collage celebrating 6 months after surgery.


6 Months


I want to thank Cris for taking the time to share her experiences, her photos, her photo collages, her positive outlook and her recovery with our community!!! To see more pictures and photo collages from Cris’ journal, click here.


Next Community Rockstar… Tammy Pilcher

It was October, 2014, when I first connected with Tammy Pilcher, a patient from Freeport, Florida. Diagnosed at age 13 with a heart murmur, Tammy needed aortic valve replacement due to aortic stenosis. On October 31, 2014, Tammy had a successful procedure thanks to Dr. Kevin Accola at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida.




Tammy recovered very well. By her 7th week, Tammy posted, “I’m feeling really good still. I haven’t had any pain in a long time, only a little soreness in my chest at times. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 7 weeks since my heart was operated on and I’m able to do so much.” At 3 months, Tammy posted that she was essentially “back to normal”.

What makes Tammy’s story so incredible is actually what happened after her surgery — in our community. Little by little, I noticed that Tammy Pilcher was an super, double whammy, extraordinary supporter of just about every patient in our community.

Every time I jumped into our Patient News Feed, there was Tammy.

In the morning, there was Tammy.

In the afternoon, there was Tammy.

Late at night, there was Tammy.




Even now.

I just went to the news feed.

Yep! You guessed it. There was Tammy posting an encouraging note to Susan Wozniak about her 4 week post-op recovery update. Tammy posted, “Congratulations Susan, on a  great recovery! God Bless!”

Simply amazing Tammy!

On behalf of our community, I wanted to thank you for all of your incredible support! To visit Tammy’s journal, click here.

Keep on tickin’ Cris & Tammy!!!

P.S. Want more updates from the 2015 Patient Success Week? Sign up to my free newsletter!

Tammy Pilcher and Cris Dykeman

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Michael J Hinderlie says on July 22nd, 2015 at 1:48 am

I had three open heart surgeries in a 14 month period. An aortic disection, two valve repairs and the third was a bovine valve replacement for failure of one of the repaired valves. Needless to say…I feel blessed and fortunate to be alive. My biggest problem with my heart surgeries was ICU Psychosis after being co-oped up for 13 days in two different ICU’s, but it is not what here to discuss for this writing and would take an entire hour just write about the pit falls of ICU Psy. Since my 3 surgeries,
I have become more emotional and sensitive to many different human occurances. Frankly, I am thankful that this happened. I have always been sensitive to wonderfull events…hey we all cried for Old Yeller or when Lassie came home. I was only 7-8 years old then. Today, because what have been through has made feel it deeper and more appreciative of simple everday events. I feel it is blessing that I cry when I hear a great orchestra, great choir, moving political or sporting events. It has enriched my life 10 fold. I have greater sense of myself, my purpose in life and wondering what is all about? Life is very good…and I am happy to hopefully help someone with my story. Look forward to hearing others.

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