Share Your Story: Mike Papale
At age 17, Mike Papale was a high school basketball player with a college basketball career on the horizon, until one day while working a basketball camp Mike suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. In one day, he went from being a young athlete with a promising athletic future to a seventeen year old diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and medical orders to never play competitive basketball again.
Due to HCM being a genetic condition, when one patient is diagnosed, immediate family members should also be tested. When Mike’s parents were tested to see who may have passed down the gene for HCM, they discovered that his father also had a diagnosis of HCM. Unlike Mike, he had never experienced any of the symptoms of HCM that he was aware of. Genetic tests were also run, but unfortunately they came back inconclusive, which is not uncommon in HCM patients. As no gene could be found, Mike’s younger brother is tested for HCM yearly with echocardiograms and evaluations with HCM experts.
Mike was connected with Dr. Martin Maron and his team at Tufts Medical Center, an HCMA recognized Center of Excellence,. During his interview, Mike stressed how important Dr. Maron and his team were in helping him accept his condition and learning to trust his body and doctors.
Mike stated that he feels like an average person despite his condition and that it has not really had an effect on his social life. HCM caused Mike to have to quit competitive basketball, but this did not end his involvement in the sport he loved. By embracing his situation Mike went on to coach, and ended up coaching college basketball for six years before leaving to found a nonprofit organization called In a Heartbeat. The organization works to provide automated external defibrillators (AED) to places and families in need.
Overall Mike Papale and his family have been affected by HCM but have not let it keep Mike from being a successful person with minimal limitations in his life. Through the “Share Your Story” program, Mike shared that by going to one of the HCMA recognized Centers of Excellence he was able to gain confidence in his body and his doctors through what he said was an “experience that has really changed my life.”