At just 12 years old, Jamie Coyle suffered a stroke after scoring a goal during a hockey game.
In 2017, Carol Conley was at lunch with her boss when she lost vision in one of her eyes. She was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart attack and a stroke.
And in 2009, just three and a half weeks before her wedding, Lynette Mitchell caught a virus that ultimately meant a heart transplant.
These harrowing stories are all too common.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in women each year.
The American Heart Association and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) are committed to fighting these startling statistics.
With our 2019 Heart2Heart Storytellers campaign, women like Jamie, Carol and Lynette had the chance to share their inspirational stories at the Go Red for Women Luncheon on Feb. 14, 2019 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
To help support the important work of the American Heart Association, BCBSRI is making a $25,000 contribution to the American Heart Association in the name of the Heart2Heart survivors.
“There are people who have it much worse than I do,” said Jamie Coyle, who is now 23. She co-authored a book that was published in 2014 called “The Luckiest Girl in the World”. It has a forward by Tedy Brushci, a former New England Patriots linebacker. Bruschi also suffered from a stroke.
Bruschi is a spokesman for the American Heart Association and founded Tedy’s Team, a foundation to raise funds for stroke research, inspired by Bruschi’s own experience.
“I always count my blessings that I can now walk and talk and move my body. I can’t go back, I can only move forward,” said Jamie.
At the Rhode Island Film and Television Office, where Carol Conley works, she is steeped in the work that she loves. Carol, who is Assistant to the Executive Director, is also an award-winning short film director and is currently working on two new films. “It’s very emotionally frightening what I went through,” she said about her heart attack and stroke. “I couldn’t have survived any of this without the wonderful people in my life.” After strenuous rehab, Carol says being positive has gotten her through her darkest moments. “I’m not going anywhere, I have more stories to tell!”
After being stricken with a virus that attacked her heart, Lynette Mitchell went through several years of agonizing health issues before getting a heart transplant. “The first time I got an EKG my doctor said it looked like the EKG of an 84-year-old woman with a massive heart attack,” said Lynette. She was 45 years old at the time.
“The heart I have is remarkable, it’s been a tremendous blessing,” she said. Lynette also created the RI Heart Transplant Support Group. It’s an online group that lets people going through similar experiences share their stories. “I needed to talk to people who understood what it was like to go through something like this. It’s been a journey, both educational and spiritual, that’s left me with a whole new view on life.”
The American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, Go Red for Women, is a comprehensive movement to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.
While nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes, cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death in women, claiming the lives of one in three women. Each year more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. It’s time to change this fact. It’s time to be demanding when it comes to women’s heart health and ask others to do the same.
For more information and to find out how you can take part in Go Red for Women locally, contact Go Red for Women Director Michelle Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 401-228-2322.