For many people in their 20s and 30s, serious health issues are little more than distant nebula, barely imaginable. For Alicia though, it has been a time of many ups and downs. During her first pregnancy with her now 15 year old daughter, she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure, protein loss in the urine, and swelling. It wasn’t until the time around she gave birth to her second daughter several years later though that she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF).
After getting this diagnosis, Alicia says, “I was devastated.” She was enrolled in a cardiac rehabiltation program at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville, Georgia where she met someone she attributes as being an incredible source of support on the journey she would take since then, Sandy. Sandy recounts that Alicia was initially depressed and had trouble dealing with her diagnosis. Depression is something that is associated with the diagnosis of heart disease and often undertreated. However, Sandy says that once they addressed Alicia’s depression, her recovery process was on a fast track. Alicia says she turns to her 2 daughters, 15 and 9 now, for the all the inspiration she needs.
In thinking back, Alicia says, “I was devastated at first, but now I’m having fun living with the disease!” In an effort to use her experience living with CHF to help others who might have or be at risk for heart disease, Alicia started the WomenHeart Hinesville Walking Group. She says that this opportunity to bring women together to be active together and share experiences can be very motivating. Through WomenHeart, Alicia and Sandy have been able to do public speaking engagements, educational events, and the walking group, which meets 3 times per week in order to positively impact the heart health of their community. Alicia also volunteers at the cardiac rehabilitation program where Sandy still works and that she’s gone through 3 times now in order to help inspire others.
Well, Alicia, we at Heartbeat are inspired! Instead of facing your diagnosis with defeat, you have overcome it and are inspiring others to do the best they can to make heart disease a thing of the past! For your motivation, internal drive, countless volunteer hours, and creation of a community of heart health conscious women in Hinesville, you’ve earned the title of Heartbeat Elite!
Do you have what it takes to be Heartbeat Elite? Claim your title here.