Mindy Beyer was planning an in-person celebration that included a table full of delicious treats to remind her guests of the sweetness of life. It’s something she is reminded of every single day of her life. A life that doctors told her parents would likely be cut short.

Mindy was born with several heart defects. When she was a month old she had a temporary procedure to stabilize her condition until she was older and strong enough to have open-heart surgery. It was supposed to happen when she was around three, but doctors warned her parents she may not live that long. As it turns out she did fine and didn’t need surgery until she was 12. It happened on December 11, 1990, a day she and her family will never forget. It was also then that she decided she would work in healthcare someday.

She made good on her promise. Today Mindy is a cardiac nurse working as a Quality Improvement Specialist at Maine Medical Partners MaineHealth Cardiology and Congenital Heart. And now 42-years-old and healthy, she was getting ready to mark the day 30 years ago when she had her first open-heart surgery. Only she hit a snag.

I was planning to have a big party. I had found a venue and I had some ideas for decorations and then COVID hit and everything changed. I was depressed, a little down on it, but then I decided to turn it around and make it a day of gratitude.

Mindy Beyer

She began her day of gratitude delivering cookies (masked, of course) to her co-workers.

One of the things I really wanted to do at my party was to have a dessert table with the theme that life is sweet, so I figured delivering cookies was a good way to remind people that thanks to their work, life is sweet for so many others.

Mindy Beyer with check

Next, she delivered a $2000 check to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire for Camp Meridian, a three-day camp experience in October for children with a congenital heart condition.

It’s an amazing camp because they realize they’re not the only kid with heart disease. A child that age tends to be the only one in their school. So, they meet other kids and see that they can keep up and do things like the climbing wall or just about anything that’s a normal kid camp activity. There are doctors and nurses at the camp so it’s a controlled atmosphere. I had the blessing to be able to go help a few years ago before my son was born. When my party fell through, I thought that if I could help send kids to camp it would be an amazing way to give back. I was able to help fundraise for the camp and raised just over $2,000.

Mindy's cardiologist on Zoom call

That evening, Mindy got an unexpected gift from her sister Michelle, who tracked down Dr. Sol Rockenmacher, her cardiologist from when she was eight into her early 20s. They connected on a Zoom call.

It was really just amazing. There is a bond between a congenital heart patient and their cardiologist, and that is what made it so special. To be able to express gratitude years later, I can’t even tell you. And I didn’t know how he was doing. It was great.

Mindy and friends

And even though it couldn’t be in person, Mindy ended her day surrounded by friends. On Facebook, she posted:

What a great way to end an amazing day!!! Cheers to 30 years!! And all the friends I have made along the way!!!


Mindy’s gratitude extends beyond the life-saving heart surgery she had at the age of 12. Two months before she was to graduate from nursing school, a routine MRI revealed a tear in her aorta. She had her second open heart surgery and the tear was repaired. Had it gone undetected, it surely would have been deadly.

I was very lucky. I stop and think about it sometimes and I’m like, wow. It’s amazing.”

Mindy with family
Source: Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

And then, talk about the sweetness of life, on May 30, 2012, Mindy and her husband John welcomed their son Kyler into the world. She always thought she would never be able to have children.

He’s now a healthy 8-year-old in the third grade, and we’re just trying to navigate through the pandemic and school and being virtual and all that good stuff like many other families. We definitely are in our little bubble and try to stay there because I’m at high risk, but it’s one day at a time. I feel great. I get up every morning and I exercise, which has been a huge key to keeping my heart healthy. And I stop and I count my blessings.


As she reflected on her 30-year anniversary, Mindy says she realized that gratitude is an important part of life and healing but it’s also important to circle back and let the people working in the healthcare field know about the impact they have on their patients.

Patients are so thankful for the things they do and there are little things that make a huge, huge difference for each and every patient. I experienced it firsthand. I think I’ve been given more than I ever expected, and I just am so thankful.


Has your life been impacted by someone in the healthcare field? Especially, but not limited to the pandemic that has stormed into our lives? Now might be the perfect time to express your gratitude. Be inspired by Mindy Beyer.

Happy Anniversary, Mindy. May you have decades more.