As You're the Cure on the Hill 2009 approaches, we're introducing you to some of the amazing advocates who will travel from around the country to join us in Washington D.C. April 20 and 21. They'll share their stories with lawmakers as they fight for heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding and healthcare reform. Today, meet... Laine Berry from Arkansas!
In Laine's own words:
Eight years ago, I nearly lost my greatest girlfriend, closest confidant and lifelong mentor to heart disease. My beautiful mother, Cheryl Hatfield, had suffered from strange symptoms which included sleeplessness, migraine headaches, and general malaise for several months. Doctors had considered several possibilities for these symptoms, including depression and anxiety, but no physician ever considered the culprit might be coronary artery disease. We finally convinced our family practitioner to order an arteriogram, and our suspicions were confirmed. It was discovered that my mother had blockages of more than 90% in three main arteries. That same year I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. I had been suffering from this condition since childhood, but had not been able to gain an accurate diagnosis for nearly 25 years. After my mother's successful triple bypass surgery, and my own diagnosis, it became my goal to learn as much about heart disease in women as possible. What I learned both terrified and inspired me. I have become an activist for the American Heart Association, as a volunteer and spokesperson. Over the last eight years I have served as a board member for our local Heart Walks, as a You're the Cure advocate, as the chairwoman of our Arkansas advocacy committee, as an organizer of some of the earliest Go Red events in our state, and as a spokesperson nationwide. I fully believe the only way to truly end the effects of coronary artery disease in women is to teach them to know their bodies and to be their own advocates.
In 2008 I won the Mrs. International pageant from a field of women from all fifty states and around the globe. The Mrs. International organization has partnered with the American Heart Association, and has made women’s heart disease education their national platform. Since my crowning in July of 2008 I’ve traveled over 25,000 miles speaking on behalf of the AHA. I’m thrilled to complete my journey as Mrs. International as pat of the delegation from Arkansas at national lobby day!
Stay tuned for more You're the Cure on the Hill advocate profiles throughout the month...