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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Everyone encounters a challenge in life but for Courtney Case, 24, of Chattanooga, the challenge is living with a deadly heart condition while defying the odds of competing in her first natural bodybuilding competition.
Almost every evening after work, Case arrives at the Rush Fitness
gym ready for another training session. She aspires to compete in her first bodybuilding competition in the figure category.
Unlike most competitors and even aspiring one, Case is dealing with a deadly heart condition. Last November, Case suffered her first heart attack. As if suffering a heart attack wasn't bad enough, she received news from doctors that was anything but encouraging.
"Nearly four month ago I was told that my heart doesn't work completely and they told me that I didn't have that much longer left to live," Case said.
The single mom of a 4-year old was diagnosed with a form of hereditary heart disease. The condition came close to killing her numerous times but she wasn't ready to throw in the chips.
"I had heart surgery that was experimental to try to fix it and they said to follow my body and see where it goes from there. Then they gave me another two years to live as of now," Case said.
The medical procedure Case underwent is buying her some time while she waits on a list to receive a heart transplant.
In the meantime, Case is following her body enough to slowly train in the gym over the next couple of months to not only get in shape but to become a competitor.
"I started coming to the gym and figured that if I'm going to do it then I'm going to do it all the way. I like the competition aspect of it so I figured why not," said Case who was warming up for a workout with personal trainer and current natural bodybuilder, Jody Sullins.
Sullins said he understood the tough road ahead for Courtney as she attempts to do something that will require a lot of time, sweat and tears.
"When she hears this news about her heart condition; it's tough. You have a lot of limitations and restrictions that you really have to watch out for but with the right guidance and the right nutrition and of course the right weight resistance, you're going to see exactly what you're looking for," Sullins said.
When asked about her motivation to compete; despite having a serious heart condition, Courtney said there are people close to her who often tell her that she can't do it. She's now on a mission to prove them wrong.
"I don't like people to tell me I can't so It just makes me push harder and I'm pushing as hard as I can in the gym everyday," she said.
Fortunately for Courtney, her doctor has given her the green light to train as long as she constantly monitors her heart and make sure it doesn't beat above a certain rate.
When asked if there was another reason to defy the odds, the aspiring competitor said she also wanted to be a source of encouragement.
"If you put you're mind and heart into it then no one can say you can't. No mater how old, young, sick or not; you can do whatever you want. You just have to say you can," said Case with a concentrated look on her face.