Champion Spotlight: Q&A with Dawn Manogue

We met with WomenHeart Champion, Dawn Manogue and her 17-year-old daughter Lily at the Burlington Stores heart screening in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss how advocacy has shaped this mother-daughter relationship. One of the pair’s earliest campaigns was WomenHeart’s 2004 White Blouse campaign, meant to raise awareness about women’s heart disease and put a face behind the #1 killer of women.

Dawn was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy—a form of heart failure due to pregnancy—in 2001, just seven weeks after giving birth. “I was misdiagnosed,” Dawn says. “I was in end-stage heart failure, but they told me I had New-Mommy anxiety. I ended up not needing [a heart transplant], but it made me realize a few things about the health care system. I was looking for an outlet or way to actually be effective.”

After reading a news story about the WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic (S&L), Dawn reached out to learn more. “It was super empowering and amazing to meet other people who had a similar experience.”

Raising a new generation of advocates

 Heart disease runs in Dawn’s family, and at just 14 weeks old, her daughter Lily was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD) that required open heart surgery.

“We spent the first year or so on mother-daughter medication, battling heart disease,” Dawn recalls. “There seems to be a sense of shame that women have around having a chronic disease. I didn’t want [Lily] to ever feel like it was something she should be quiet about.”

In fact, Dawn spoke publicly about her heart disease, carrying Lily with her everywhere she went. Dawn and Lily participated in the 2004 WomenHeart White Blouse campaign to raise awareness about women’s heart disease. By age seven, Lily began giving her own public speaking engagements.

Lily delivered her first speech before a crowd of 700 people at the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball.

“It became something I was proud of,” Lily said. “I would have an echocardiogram and then come in with a little picture of it and show my classmates when I was in second grade. And to this day I speak to my [high] school about it.”

Dawn and Lily’s efforts even helped to create the nationally recognized Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Day, which coincides with Valentine’s Day.

On working with WomenHeart

Dawn says, with WomenHeart, “You’re not alone as you feel and get to discover your unique skills when it comes to advocacy.” She’s thankful for her experience at the 2012 S& L, where she made friends with other heart disease survivors and advocates who all have different skillsets.

“We all found a place that we can fit, and it was so empowering,” says Dawn. “WomenHeart really helps us help people, and that helps your journey.”

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