Eight years ago, I nearly lost my greatest girlfriend, closest confidant and lifelong mentor to heart disease. My beautiful mother, Cheryl Hatfield, had suffered from strange symptoms which included sleeplessness, migraine headaches, and general malaise for several months. Doctors had considered several possibilities for these symptoms, including depression and anxiety, but no physician ever considered the culprit might be coronary artery disease.
We finally convinced our family practitioner to order an arteriogram, and our suspicions were confirmed. It was discovered that my mother had blockages of more than 90% in three main arteries. That same year I was diagnosed with Tachycardia complicated by Arrhythmia. I had been suffering from both conditions since childhood, but had not been able to gain an accurate diagnosis for nearly 25 years.
After my mother's successful triple bypass surgery, and my own diagnosis, it became my goal to learn as much about heart disease in women as possible. What I learned both terrified and inspired me. I have become an activist for the American Heart Association, as a volunteer and spokesperson. Over the last eight years I have served as a board member for our local Heart Walks, as a You're the Cure advocate, as an organizer of some of the earliest Go Red events in our state, and as a spokesperson statewide. I fully believe the only way to truly end the effects of coronary artery disease in women is to teach them to know their bodies and to be their own advocates.