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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Going to the show....

RuthA few months after my first child was born, my mother -- a widow, who'd lost her husband, my father, to a massive single heart attack -- looked closely at my face. "Oh my God, Ruthie....you have cholesterol spots under your eyes. Just like your father did!"

That's the family legacy. The men on my father's side died of heart disease in their 30s and 40s; on my mother's side, death visited in the form of hypertension and strokes. Sure enough, I had little pockets of something under my eyes (and not just the usual bags from fatigue from being up all hours, nursing my baby, etc).

Like most young mothers, I wanted to live more than anything -- I raced to the doctor. This was in 1974. Fortunately, at that time, the cholesterol count came back normal, but in truth, I never really relaxed. Heart disease was always right around the corner, waiting to pounce. Hidden in tiny but potentially lethal doses in my body....

And sure enough, by my mid-50s, my cholesterol was on its march upwards. Lifestsyle choices I made did little to help. I had a sedentary stress-filled job working for a newspaper; I occasionally smoked; I drank. Sure, I dieted and made it to the gym, but was that enough to off-set the monster?

With this shadow hanging over me -- and a cholesterol count of 240 at age 62, despite medicine -- the small notice in the Star of a "healthy heart challenge" for women came as an opportunity to be proactive, not wait for the axe to fall. I applied for the contest, and the day I was chosen was truly one of the happiest and most blessed of my life.

I'm on a journey now, and my mantra every day is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for caring about women and heart disease....I am "going to the show," meaning the Feb. 26 luncheon, and I hope you will come along with me....


  1. Ruth, I think that sense of never relaxing is true for so many of us who know that we need to take better charge of our health. Now you don't have to be anxious -- you are informed! So looking forward to taking this journey with you.

  2. Go Ruth, I am so pulling for you. I am 61 and in the same boat you are. I'm going to try to follow you and perhaps we can feel better together!

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  4. Ruth, you are starting on a wonderful journey! I am so proud to be a part of this change with you and am here if you need anything! Leslie (dietitian at THCI).