‘THERE WILL BE TIME’: Local teen overcomes heart attacks, stars in film

Published: Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 09:33 AM.

Chance Byrd, 17, has always loved performing. He wasn't putting on a show in April, though, when he said he felt like a sledgehammer had hit him in the chest. He was having a massive heart attack.

Byrd's mother, Regina, thought her son might just have bronchitis, because he had been sick with sinus issues a week earlier. After all, Chance was an active 16-year-old high school junior at the time — not a typical heart attack sufferer. He convinced his mother it was something more serious, though, and she rushed him to the hospital in DeFuniak Springs. Doctors realized the DeFuniak resident had endured a major heart attack and sent him to the heart specialists at Pensacola Sacred Heart.

"I didn't know what to think. I guess we were kind of in shock," Regina told The Log. "The doctors said, 'We don't have answers. We don't know why this happened.' "

On the severity spectrum, Byrd's heart attack was off the charts. One of the most reliable tests of a heart attack is measuring the level of certain enzymes in the blood that the heart releases when it is injured. Doctors told Byrd that his enzyme levels were more than five times the level that indicates a minor heart attack.

Doctors ran several tests and scans on Byrd, and found a large foreign mass near his heart. They told Byrd, who dreamed of one day making his living as a singer, that it could be cancerous, but they wouldn't know until they ran more tests.

That night, Byrd's outlook on life and performing changed.

"For 11 years, I worked and worked and worked, trying to get to where I was. I gave up on things that really mattered," Byrd told The Log. "I feel like God was saying, 'You need to live your life, slow down a little bit. There will be time for that in the future.' "

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