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Circle of Red member shares her battle with heart disease

Leisha Tedford talks about why she chose to ‘Go Red’

Recently, during a conversation with my oldest daughter Chloe, I explained that when I was a teenager I had dreams for my life that echoed hers. I dreamed about my fairy tale that included a happy marriage, children, and a fulfilling career. I didn’t imagine a life that included divorce, bankruptcy, business failure, single-motherhood, depression, online dating, unemployment and health issues. I have found that life can be unfair and rewarding all at the same time. It’s all about perspective. My experiences were either lessons or blessings, or both. I am now thankful for every one of them.

With all those life lessons behind me, I was ready for change. I was excited for my future. Turning 40 came with much anticipation and I was ready to author a new chapter in my life. I didn’t know that my most challenging life lesson was lurking around the next corner. Three years ago I had a heart attack. My symptoms were minor, atypical, and easily explained away. What other working mom isn’t fatigued? And my nausea was obviously some “bug” I caught from my kids. I delayed seeking treatment and I am lucky to be alive. My only option for survival was an emergency open-heart surgery. I was terrified. I believed I was going to die. The thought of never seeing my children again was devastating to me and I was filled with regret. Waking up on life support in an ICU after surgery left me feeling deeply humbled and grateful. I was given a second chance in life.

I believe that my heart attack and experience with heart disease makes my journey very similar to your story. Heart disease is part of every woman’s story whether she knows it or not. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all women in the United States and it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined including breast cancer. It’s a silent killer and typically the first symptom of a heart attack is death. Let my heart attack be your first symptom to share an experience and motivate you to become proactive with your own heart health. My heart is filled with gratitude for a second chance and I am passionate about educating women about heart disease and teaching them to live intentionally making each heartbeat count.

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