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Survivor Stories
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Nothing is more powerful than a story from the heart.  Stories of survival make the facts and figures on women's heart disease come to life and echo the importance of WomenHeart messages of prevention and early detection, accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment. 

Our WomenHeart Champions are not only survivors, but the"boots on the ground" in the fight against heart disease. These women have gone on to educate and support thousands of women nationwide by writing books, starting their own nonprofit organizations, contributing to groundbreaking research and using their voices to raise awareness of the number one killer of women. 


Monthly Champion Spotlight - June
Yesenia Araujo: "New York Strong" 

“I had three heart attacks in one day,” Yesenia Araujo says. The first, she explains, happened at her home, where her boyfriend called an ambulance to rush her to the hospital because she was vomiting, fatigued and experiencing shortness of breath—though at the time they did not realize she was having a heart attack. Yesenia suffers from asthma and while she knew this shortness of breath didn’t feel like her usual asthma, her past history was on both her and her doctor’s mind, distracting from the real problem at hand.

When Yesenia arrived at the hospital via ambulance she says she experienced a second heart attack. From there she was rushed to another hospital, where the medical professionals finally realized Yesenia was having a heart attack. It was December 13, 2013. She was 43 years old. “I was having a heart attack right in their faces while they were doing a sonogram,” Yesenia recalls. “That whole day I felt like no one really believed me. I didn’t know how to express myself. I kept telling them I couldn’t breathe. But the vomiting is what I remember the most.” Read her full story.


WomenHeart Champion Survivor Stories

Carol:  "I started having indigestion late one afternoon while meeting with clients.  As I sat listening to the auctioneer present my clients with various alternatives to selling their home, the pain intensified.  I told my client, who happened to be a doctor, about my symptom, and he explained that it may be a gall bladder issue since I had no other symptoms of a heart attack... [read more]




Janice: "Early one morning I began having pain in my chest and sweating.  It felt like all my body functions were out of control.  I did not think that what was happening was a heart attack, but to be on the safe side my husband and I left for the hospital... [read more]


Kimberly: Kimberly was diagnosed with a heart murmur at the age of 12. When she was 17, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. By the age of 21, Kimberly was in heart failure and was put on the heart transplant list. [view Kim's video]









Champion Spotlight Archive

May 2018 - Meet Mary Anne Norling
Pregnant with her first baby at 23 years old, Mary Anne Norling was excited and nervous, bracing herself for the Washington, D.C. summer heat when she found out she had pre-eclampsia. 

April 2018 - Meet Marcia Egeland
You know all those headlines that read, “How could a healthy, 40-something have a heart attack?” What they don’t seem to understand, is that heart disease does not discriminate.

March 2018 -  Then and Now: Dawn Manogue and Lily Toomey
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. 

February 2018 - Meet Pamela Thomas
The perfect blend of fierce and fearless, 47-year old Pamela Thomas knows the importance of support to help women with heart disease thrive. 

January 2018 - WomenHeart Champion Spotlight: Georgia Leventis-Molina
“They kept giving me pain pills, but nothing was getting better,” Georgia recalls. 

December 2017 - Meet Ann Bendall
...she stumbled upon WomenHeart at a health fair where WomenHeart Champion Kathy Kastan was volunteering. “She says I came up to her and shyly said, ‘Hi. I have heart disease.’"

November 2017 - Meet Melissa Cappuccilli
No matter she was only 8-weeks post-heart surgery, but Melissa isn’t one to sit on the sidelines. 

October 2017 - Meet Lucia Johnson
Lucia values her newfound heart sisters tremendously because she says her own heart journey was very lonely

August 2017 - Meet Debora Grandison
WomenHeart Champion Debora Grandison of St. Louis, Missouri (class of 2013), has been living with heart disease and diabetes for almost 30 years.

July 2017 - Healing after Heart Disease: How One Woman is Giving Back, Ree Laughlin
After surgery and recovery, Ree says she was in a different world. With a 10-inch scar down her chest, she didn’t recognize herself anymore.


Meet More of Our Champions      

WomenHeart Champion Florence           WomenHeart Champion Carol
WomenHeart Champion Pam      WomenHeart Champion Roxanne 
WomenHeart Champion Eileen                    WomenHeart Champion Mildred 
WomenHeart Champion Joe Ann                WomenHeart Champion Dawn
WomenHeart Champion Pamela J.       WomenHeart Champion Starr
WomenHeart Champion Rhonda     WomenHeart Champion Pam
WomenHeart Champion Janet      WomenHeart Champion Maxine
WomenHeart Champion Dolores     WomenHeart Champion Denise
 WomenHeart Champion Cindy      WomenHeart Champion Brenda
 WomenHeart Champion Cathy     WomenHeart Champion Myra


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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

2016 Copyright - WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.