2019 is barely underway and Cathleen Newman has committed to a series of powerful changes even before ringing in the New Year.
She’s joined a mentoring program at work, signed up to get her MBA, purchased an exercise bike and is on a plant-based diet. Yoga and meditation are also daily staples of Cathleen’s life.
Last June Cathleen found herself back in Rhode Island Hospital. She had to get a new stent put in her heart, after previously having a heart attack, when doctors discovered a 90 percent blockage.
“It’s frightening when you realize how fragile life is and how close you’ve come to death,” Cathleen said.
Cathleen Newman is part of the Class of 2018 Heart2Heart Storytellers. It’s a group of women in Southern New England that share their stories about having survived heart disease and stroke. Cathleen’s story was shared, along with other Storytellers, at the Go Red for Women Luncheon last year.
This program is made possible with the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), which makes a $25,000 contribution to the American Heart Association in the name of Heart2Heart Survivors.
“Storytellers is beneficial because it helped me to work through what I was feeling by sharing my story and knowing that I was not alone,” Cathleen said. “I met women who went through things that were much worse than my heart attack, some had heart transplants.”
Everyone in Newman’s immediate family has had a cardiac event. When she had her first heart attack, she had all the classic symptoms, including chest pain, nausea and jaw pain. It was a hot day in July when she had walked half a mile to her car after work. Cathleen works for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and is the director of network contracting. She called her husband before driving herself to the hospital.
“I felt like I was almost too busy in my life to deal with health issues, but when I had to deal with it, I couldn’t ignore it and it forced me to make lifestyle changes,” said Cathleen.
Women choose to ignore their own health issues because they are too busy caretaking and have families and jobs, she said. “Women must listen to their own bodies and make time to put yourself first.”
The 2019 Southern New England Go Red for Women Luncheon is being held on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. There will be a new class of Heart2Heart Storytellers highlighted. For Cathleen, listening to other women share their stories is a powerful experience.
“I still have people that come up to me since my story was shared at the luncheon and telling me how it impacted them and it opens up people to talking about cardiac disease,” said Cathleen.
“I would say to this new class of Storytellers, your story is very important… and it could be preventing people from a more serious illness, and maybe one day women will not be dying like they are of cardiac disease.”
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute.
The American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon is a celebration of its commitment to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. Heart disease and stroke remain the nation’s leading health threats to women but there is good news. These diseases are 80% preventable with education and lifestyle changes. Guests are invited to wear red, share stories of prevention and survival, and advocate for women’s heart and brain health.
For tickets to the 2019 Southern New England Go Red for Women Luncheon please go snegoredluncheon.heart.org or contact Go Red for Women Director Michelle Clark.