H is for Hero
“You gotta have heart.
All you really need is heart.
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win,
That’s when the grin should start.
You’ve gotta have hope.
Mustn’t sit around and mope.”
When Richard Adler wrote these lyrics for the 1950s Broadway musical Damn Yankees, he didn’t have women with heart disease in mind, but Danielle Archer, Katie Adams, Heather Ray, Stephanie Davis, and Susan Moss are women who, despite their health struggles, have maintained hope and HEART.
Her story: After the birth of Danielle Archer’s fifth child in 2013, she began experiencing extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Because she didn’t fit the profile of a person with heart disease — she was a runner training for a marathon — doctors attributed these symptoms to her being over 40, her hormones, and anxiety. Still, Danielle knew her symptoms were not just in her head. “To go up a flight of stairs almost left me in tears,” she says. “I just knew it wasn’t fatigue or my hormones. I knew it was something more.”
Her diagnosis: Danielle had severe mitral valve prolapse, which is when the valves that control blood flow don’t pump the blood as they should.
Her advice to others: During the months when Danielle kept returning to her doctor about her symptoms, she really had to be her own hero, and she encourages other women to do the same. “I knew something was wrong, and it took some persistence on my part to have my symptoms taken seriously,” she says. “You’re paying [the doctors] to listen to you.”
Extra tidbit: Before you start stressing out about your daily responsibilities, use this as motivation for staying calm.