I need to tell you that the U. S. is in a dilemma. More than 400,000 women will die of heart disease this year, and we need to become educated. That means that more women will die of heart disease than all the cancers combined, yet because of more attention, women often think that breast cancer is their number one threat. It isn’t. It’s heart disease.
Actually, one out of every four women will get some sort of heart disease and one out of every nine women will get breast cancer. Another misconception is that it is a man’s disease. The fact is, since 1984, more women than men are dying of heart disease and the gap keeps widening.
Since 2007, when I attended the Science and Leadership Symposium in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic, I have been volunteering for the WomenHeart Organization. They put on the Symposium in conjunction with the Mayo. This year is the Clinic’s 15th year hosting this event. The conference is open to any woman who has had any kind of heart episode. However, there is a strict screening process. First, the woman must fill out an application form, then write an essay about her heart event, and thirdly, get written approval from their cardiologist stating she is able to attend the rigorous training and afterwards agree to volunteer in her home communities. The pledge each one of us had to take was to commit to six hours of volunteer work. However, I have gone beyond that, and this will be my ninth year volunteering.
I have enjoyed speaking at schools, churches, my gym, women’s clubs, Macy’s and most recently at the Burlington Coat Factory. In the past five years Burlington has partnered with the WomenHeart Organization to bring heart healthy information to their employees and the public. At my presentations, I hand out red and white bags called the Red Bag of Courage in both Spanish and English. They are filled with information on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options. Of course, I add my personal stories of experiencing two heart attacks. It’s nice to connect a face with a survivor.