When she was just three weeks old, Milana Foligno had her first surgery. It repaired a leaky heart valve, and in the process, saved her life.
For Milana, now seven, it would not be the end of her open-heart operations. In 2018, she needed a heart valve replaced. It meant another risky surgery, another impossibly difficult time in the life of the Foligno family, and in the end, another successful life-saving surgery.
This time though, Milana wasn’t three weeks old. She was five years old, and she understood the seriousness of the situation. No one knew that better than her parents, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, and his wife Janelle.
“I was trying to find a way to ease her anxiety a little bit and have conversations about it for her,” Janelle told The Athletic’s Front & Nationwide podcast. “And I really couldn’t find anything that stood out for me.”
“I just had that in the back of my head that that would be cool to do one day to be able to give to her.”
From the back of her head to making 'one day' a reality, "Dear Heart: A letter to my special heart", is Janelle's first book and is available now.
So appreciated this conversation with Janelle Foligno (and Nick ) about Janelles new book and bigger community-focused projects the family is taking on. #CBJ— Alison (@AlisonL) December 17, 2020
Listen HERE: https://t.co/cZo7FOw82e pic.twitter.com/oOMm6TN1jY
"This book means a lot to us as it is a reflection of the journey Milana has been through," Janelle shared in her Instagram post announcing the book. "It has a message for all heart warriors to be proud of their special hearts, of their scars, and their story."
Mrs. Foligno, in speaking with NHLPA.com about "Dear Heart", added that "the book is unique in that it’s geared toward kids and even adults who want to look back on their journey with a heart defect, heart surgery or any heart-related concern ... It will tie in the experiences we’ve had with Milana.”
"Dear Heart" is available here for $25. The entirety of the proceeds from the book are donated to heart health research on behalf of the Foligno family's own foundation, The Hearts Playbook Foundation.