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Women are being targeted. We are falling prey to a silent enemy. An enemy most of us didn’t even know we had. But it has its sights set on us. And in 2010, it was set on me.
I was horrified to learn that I had fluid around my heart. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but after what you can imagine was a myriad of tests, I was told that I needed open-heart surgery to save my heart and my life. Not what I was expecting to hear. And just like that, heart disease had gotten to me.
I know what you’re thinking, “she was over 300 pounds.” I was. But I had lost over 150 pounds several years earlier. I changed my lifestyle and diet too. Yet heart disease still found its way to me.
Most of us hear heart disease and we think of old white men. The ones sitting back after a steak and potato dinner. And we couldn’t be more mistaken. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, affecting more than 43 million women in the U.S. And even more chilling, heart disease results in death for one in three women each year. These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our friends … ourselves.
I was lucky (more like blessed!) because I found out in time. And I had support. That support gave me the courage to fight through it. Six days after my surgery, I left the hospital feeling like I had been given another chance. I knew that the road to recovery would be long and grueling… but there was that support still pushing me through. It strengthened me. It made me a fighter. That’s when I realized what I needed to do – my purpose was clear. I needed to be that support for other women, as many women as I could reach. I wanted to raise awareness and make progress towards prevention. So for the past few years, I’ve served as the National Volunteer for the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA’s Go Red for Womenmovement was created for such purpose. In the past 10 years, women have been fighting heart disease together and with Go Red For Women, and more than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved. Nothing makes me happier than meeting fellow survivors. We’re heart sisters who’ve battled heart disease, and their courage inspires me to keep up the fight against this No. 1 killer.