Heart Disease Survivor, Brenda Jump
Brenda credits her six-year-old granddaughter with saving her life. One day while playing, her granddaughter said "Maw-maw don’t die." They had never talked about death and this was completely out of the blue.
Brenda had been having chest pains for some time leading up to this day, but didn’t think much of it. Her chest pains were more a discomfort than severe pain and were easily brushed off as no big deal. But that day, when she saw her granddaughter’s face as she said "don’t die," she decided it was a sign from God and she better call the doctor.
Both of Brenda’s parents died of heart disease and her brother died at only 38 years old. Brenda thought that since she is a nurse, heart disease would not affect her. After her visit with her doctor, she learned she a 99 percent blockage that required a stent and Cardiac Rehab to try and decrease two other blockages that were found.
Brenda currently participates in the St. Elizabeth Cardiac Rehab program three times a week and says she will continue to go indefinitely. As part of her rehab she starts her day on the treadmill at 7 a.m. and has quit smoking and has lost 17 pounds.
She is amazed at how good she feels and loves having more energy and says she now has the vitality of someone in their 20’s, and has even been told she is "glowing."
She credits Dr. Sanders, Dr. Strickmeyer and the Cardiac Rehab staff at St. Elizabeth Healthcare with her success and her new outlook on life. Thanks to the care and support she received from St. Elizabeth she feels like a new person, being physically and mentally fit.
Brenda has now made it her mission to pass on the education she received about heart disease. She says if she can help just one person, she has made a difference. She’s even teaching her granddaughter the importance of healthy eating and healthy living, as it is never too young to start.
Breast Cancer Survivor, Traci Clancy
Remember almost three years ago when the remnants of a hurricane blew through town? That same week in September 2008, Traci was going for a biopsy and waiting for the results. She lost power at her house for about four days. One of those nights, she and her husband sat outside with the wood burner and contemplated what the future held.
"That Friday we found out that I had Stage Three Cancer in both breasts – 5.2 Centimeters in the right, and 2 Millimeters in the left," she says. "We always joke that the hurricane blew it all in!" She went through 20 weeks of chemo, a double mastectomy with a 40 staple gash in her back for reconstruction, five weeks of radiation, a couple months of (what she calls "pumping up the girls") reconstruction surgery. She spent Thanksgiving 2009 in the hospital due to an infection. "Quite the year," she says. "I have leftover annoying ‘things,’ but it’s okay. I’m alive!"
Traci says she could not have made it through without her "entourage" at St. Elizabeth. That esteemed group includes Breast Surgeon Dr. Guenther, Dr. Mannion for chemo, Dr. Summe for Radiation and Dr. Williams for Reconstruction. "I simply could not have not made it without Terri, Kathy, Mary and the Nurse Navigators at the St. Elizabeth Breast Center," she says. "I kept telling them all along, ‘I just need Barbie Bumps, and I’ll be fine!’ They took care of me, and got me through."
Traci says she also has a strong personal support system, too. Her family, friends (near and far on Facebook and Caring Bridge), her church, Book Club, and all her neighborhood friends supported her through this difficult time. "When I felt down, I could close my eyes and just picture them all around me, taking care of me, and it comforted me," she recalls.
"I also made sure that I did something fun after every part of it," she says. "After chemo, I met my girlfriends in Florida for a week. Just two weeks after surgery, I got to be the Batgirl for the Cincinnati Reds on Mother’s Day for Batting for the Cure. And after radiation, 140 close friends and I went to dinner and a show: ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Aronoff!"
She just recently accepted a job with the Greater Cincinnati Susan G. Komen Affiliate. "I now can help other women going down this path that we never chose," she says. "My message is to all of you that don’t have Breast Cancer: Take care of those who do. I couldn’t have gotten through any of it without my friends, family, doctors, nurses and my number one caretaker, my husband John. Even the nurses said, ‘Oh we love you, Traci, but we LOVE John!’"
And, she says, don’t forget to laugh. "You might cry a little every day, but that’s okay, just remember to laugh too!"
Diabetes Survivor, Holly Wilson
After losing 40 pounds in two weeks time, dehydration and near death, Holly was diagnosed with type I diabetes mellitus on New Year’s Eve of 2003, right after her 33rd birthday. There is no history of this disease in her family. "I got it because a virus attacked my pancreas making me feel worse than I have ever felt in my life," she recalls.
"With the dietitians from St. Elizabeth I learned about eating healthy, counting carbs, understanding fats so that I could manage this disease," Holly says. "And what a blessing to learn such valuable information. Never before had I eaten healthy or even understood what a portion was." She says they focused on lifestyle change by understanding food versus dieting. "It tastes great," she says with a smile. "And yes, I still get to eat a little chocolate!"
During this time she was also learning about insulin shots. After six months of meticulous eating and checking blood sugars, she was able to go on the Mini Medtronic Paradigm insulin pump which gives her more freedom. "I am able to specifically program my insulin pump to act as an ‘electronic’ pancreas that matches my body’s specific insulin intake while accurately dosing for all food," she says. "This helps me to manage this disease so that I do not have long term effects on my health later and is barely noticeable under my clothes."
Without this insulin, Holly would not be alive. And without her doctor, Dr. Powlimi Soni from St. Elizabeth, Holly says she would not be able to know her body’s specific needs for the insulin. "When I see Dr. Soni, she notices immediately if something is wrong, whether it be by my lab results, or just my behavior in general," Holly says. "She takes all of the data and my personal visit to guide my path to good health. She takes my health seriously, and I take her advice seriously, so that I can live my life as free as anyone else who doesn’t have this disease."
Holly says she’s extremely grateful for Dr. Soni and her assistant Cindy who always handles the prescriptions for faxing, or calling her back if there is an issue or question. "They are a great team," she says.
Seven and a half years later, Holly is a stay-at-home mom, who works part-time for Citigroup. She has a loving husband, who was also educated on diabetes to help her, two beautiful children, three- and four-years old who are healthy and diabetes-free! "I am absolutely blessed to have a full, free life with the support from wonderful people who care about me enough to encourage this life to continue," Holly says.
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