Meet a WomenHeart Champion!
Janet from Philadelphia, PA!
One day in October 2003, Janet experienced an unusual shortness of breath. After calling 911, Janet learned that she had fluid in her lungs. With no history of heart disease in her family, Janet was shocked to learn through subsequent tests that an unknown virus had attacked her heart and put her in heart failure. Struggling to return to work, Janet received a pacemaker in January 2004 and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) a year later. Between January and March 2005, Janet was in and out of the hospital because the ICD was firing too often. She was then listed for a heart transplant and waited in the hospital for 6.5 weeks for her new heart. Janet was able to return to work after being out for 20 months. She worked seven additional years before recently retiring from the City of Philadelphia after 33 years of service as a Social Worker.
Janet received her heart transplant nine years ago and at 50 became an athlete. Janet competed in her first US Transplant Games and received her first Silver Medal not even a year after receiving her new heart. Janet has been to five US Transplant Games and three World Transplant Games traveling to Australia, Sweden and South Africa. Janet has received 22 medals in the following events: swimming, shot put, discus, long jump, and javelin!
Janet now dedicates herself full-time to supporting other heart patients through her community and WomenHeart. She is known as Chaplain Dennis at Penn Medicine where she works on the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit on the same floor where she lived while waiting for her new heart. Janet inspires, encourages, and provides emotional and spiritual support to heart patients.
This amazing journey all started with Janet attending the 2007 WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic. Although Janet never experienced a heart attack or stroke, meeting other women with heart disease was an eye opener. In many ways, their journeys were no different from hers. As Janet says “Heart disease takes you to a place you did not ever think you would go. It’s scary and unpredictable yet the more you understand and accept that fact, the better equipped you become. WomenHeart equips you with the knowledge and resources you need to educate your families, friends and the community.”
This year to help kick off the Burlington fundraising efforts in February and March, Janet met with associates at three of her community Burlington stores to educate them about WomenHeart and women and heart disease. In addition to attending multiple community health fairs, in June Janet represented WomenHeart and distributed heart-saving health information at the Women Veterans Rock Retreat annual event in Philadelphia. Janet states that this is her favorite annual event to participate in as a WomenHeart Champion. The opportunity to meet and exchange stories with powerful women veterans who are concerned about their heart health is refreshing. Janet has also mentored a fellow heart transplant patient living in Chicago for the past 2 years through WomenHeart’s Sister Match program. Janet is always looking for new ways to provide support to women living with heart disease!
We could not reach the women we reach every day without our hundreds of dedicated volunteers just like Janet. This month we are thrilled to honor Janet for her heart and lifesaving work! Thank you!
Are you interested in joining Janet and her dedicated group of more than 650 Heart Sisters? Read about our prestigious training program, the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium, and apply today!