Go Red For Women Survivor Gallery In Denver

Updated:Oct 15,2012
Walking Child
I was 13 years old, enjoying time with my friends, swimming in a pool in Silverthorne when my life changed forever. My ears started ringing. My vision got blurry, and when I tried to talked, I was slurring my speech. A lifeguard pulled me out of the water, took me to the hospital and then immediately I was transported by Flight-For-Life to Children’s Hospital. As we landed in Denver, I was paralyzed on my right side and unable to communicate. I had a massive stroke.
 
Due to the lack of research on kids and stroke, I was left to fight my own battle, and I did.  However, I knew I would never be who I once was. A part of me died that day.
 
A year after my stroke, I was cleared to travel. My dad said I could do anywhere in the world I wanted to go. I told my dad, all I wanted to do was raise awareness about stroke and help other kids.
 
Today, I am 19 years old. My right-side is still weak and I have had a headache every day for the past 6 years. But, from the outside you would never know. I am not worried about myself. I am worried now about helping others. My doctors have called me the “Walking Miracle Child”. I would rather be known as the girl who made a difference.
 
Sarah Schatcherle 
Sarah Schachterle
It can happen to anyone
I was 28 years old, and in perfect health. I had been dancing since I was a little girl and was now a professional choreographer.  It was May of 2003, I was four months away from getting married, and I was diagnosed with end stage congestive heart failure.
A defibrillator was surgically placed above my heart. I was told no one would even notice, but I was a twenty-something, 5’5”, 115lb tube-top wearing choreographer, and I noticed it, and we were pretty sure the entire world would. Although, depression did set in, I quickly rebounded. I was not someone that was going to let this change who I was or stop me from doing the things that I loved.
Since 2003, I have had several surgeries, and today I have a pacemaker and a defibrillator. I have been told that I will need a heart transplant, and have been on the waiting list since May 2009. I now have a four year old daughter, and continue to choreograph when I can.

Spending time with my family and living each day to the fullest are my priorities. If heart disease can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
 
Tricia Dampier and Mom
Tricia Dampier and her mother
Do you have heart disease in your family?
My mom is my best friend. When I was little, she and I were inseparable, and still are today. We would spend hours browsing through fabric stores in search of the most fashion forward material to complete an outfit. I still talk to her every day, even if it’s just to say hi and I love you.

On October 24th, our call lasted longer than usual. We hung up the phone, and less than an hour later my phone rang again. It was my dad. He cleared his throat, but couldn’t speak. I asked him what was wrong. It was then he gathered his composure and said “I think mom’s had a heart attack.”
 
I jumped in the car and headed for the hospital. I cried and prayed the entire way. My mom had indeed suffered a heart attack. I didn’t understand. My mother was 5’ 4”, 112 lbs, she didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and loved fruits and vegetables. How could she have had a heart attack?
 
It was then, the doctor explained that there are over 200 genetic components to heart disease, and heart disease is the number one killer of women. I consider myself a well-informed person, but I didn’t realize either of those things. I was stunned.
 
While my story has a happy ending, not everyone’s does. My heart breaks for the women who have lost their mothers. It’s doesn’t have to be that way. Educate Yourself. Know your numbers. Know your family history. It could save your life, or the life of your best friend.

Jeri Barajas 
Jeri Barajas
Do You Know the Symptoms for Heart Disease?
As a long time runner and what I would consider a “health nut”; I have always taken care of my body. I know my numbers and have always had low cholesterol and normal blood pressure. I have never been overweight, and have no history of heart disease in my family.
 
In January 2004, I was admitted to the emergency room with stage three congestive heart failure. I had been experiencing all the symptoms of heart disease, and didn’t even know it. I had gained 15 pounds in one week, my abdomen was swollen, I had a nagging neck pain, and I could not even walk more than half a block before having to rest.
 
That day I received a pacemaker. However, the doctors were worried. I wasn’t making any progress and they talked to me about needing a heart transplant. They asked if I had a living will and if I wanted to meet with a priest. After four weeks in intensive care, my condition stabilized, and my heart was getting better. I was released from the hospital. I was lucky.
 
Today, I run 3 miles a day and finally feel like myself again. But, I can’t help but think if I had only known that the symptoms of heart disease for men and women are very different, I wouldn’t have waited so long to get a second opinion, and my story would be very different.
 
Cleo Parker Robinson
Cleo Parker Robinson
Always Express the Passion You Have in Your Heart
Heart Disease has always been a part of my life. My younger brother died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 19. Within the next six months, I lost both my grandmother and uncle to heart attacks. I had lost three family members in the same year. 
 
I, too, am a heart disease survivor. At the age of 10, I suffered a heart attack as the result of a severe kidney infection. I was bedridden in a Dallas hospital at a time when segregation in the south was still very prominent. Doctors told me I would never lead the life of a normal, active child.
 
Since that fateful day, when I was lying in the hospital at such a young age, my life has been filled with strength, compassion, appreciation, and heart. I have always loved to dance, because for me, even at a young age, dance was a way of expressing life, of bringing people together for a common purpose, and sharing all expressions of the heart.
 
Today, I am the Founder / Executive director and choreographer of the 40-year old artistic institution, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, which is internationally renowned as one of the top modern dance companies in the United States.  I guess you could say I have proved them wrong.
 
Now, I take each loving beat one at a time, because my life’s work has truly been about the heart. I believe when we follow our dreams, we are expressing the passion we have in our heart. Each day, in the art and education world I live in, I strengthen the vibrations of my heart through dance and music, while always getting and giving plenty of hugs along the way!