R is for Renew

Feb 18, 2019 | Heart Health

“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: Nearly 20 years ago, when Heather Ray was pregnant with her daughter, she gained 55 pounds of fluid, and her blood pressure shot up to 290/100, which caused her to have to undergo a C-section at 29 weeks of pregnancy. In the years following, Heather experienced difficulty breathing, which doctors thought was asthma. She had to sleep sitting up and frequently used a nebulizer.

Her diagnosis: Heather had mitral valve stenosis and was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.

Her bright spot: Heather eventually went to the Mayo Clinic and was found to be a candidate for valvuloplasty. Immediately after the surgery, “I felt like I could finally breathe,” she says. Her diagnosis and treatment led to a renewal of Heather’s life. In addition to making her job as a hairdresser feel much easier, being able to breathe and feeling more energetic led Heather to train for and compete in an Iron Man contest. After years of her heart racing and feeling winded by the slightest activity, Heather felt a freedom she hadn’t anticipated.

Extra tidbit: She had a wonder woman moment when she discovered she could do this.