At age 22, Brenda was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a genetic condition where heart muscle cells enlarge and cause the ventricle walls to thicken. Over the years, Brenda’s condition progressed into atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.
More than forty years -- and four pacemakers -- later, Brenda has learned how to live well with her condition. She felt that she could use her experience to help others.
In May 2014, Brenda attended the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium in Washington, D.C. and became a WomenHeart Champion, trained to support and educate women living with heart disease.
“I think, most importantly, I learned by sharing my experience," says Brenda. "I was being validated, which was all I maybe needed at that particular time. Learning how to heal myself allowed me to support other women in their heart journey.”
Brenda held her first "WomenHeart of Northern New Jersey" support meeting on August 12 at National Hospital Alliance member Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center. It was a huge success! Working with co-coordinator Lenore DeCoursey, Brenda displayed a WomenHeart educational exhibit and distributed Red Bags of Courage® to 18 women living with heart disease.
Brenda and Lenore had planned an informal “Meet and Greet” format for the meeting, but the evening quickly evolved into a true support meeting, with attendees sharing their heart stories. At the conclusion, Brenda and Lenore were even more inspired to continue their hard work.
Our thanks go to Brenda for her dedication. We look forward to hearing more from Brenda and her successes at Morristown Medical Center!
More than 650 volunteers like Brenda help WomenHeart reach women all over the country with lifesaving heart education and support. Would you like to join our WomenHeart Champions? Read about our prestigious training program, the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium, and apply today!