I am named for my grandfather, Benjamin Goldman who passed away one year before I was born. Grandpa Benny was in his early 60's when he suffered a heart attack while riding the subway. Though he made it to the hospital in time and doctors had thought he would survive, my mom says that my grandfather was fearful of hospitals and endured another massive heart attack in the middle of the night and died without any of his family members by his side.
Nearly 35 years after my grandfather died, my own dad had a heart attack and underwent emergency surgery to place two stents in his heart. Thankfully, he survived, but not before my mom and I spent several hours in a hospital waiting room where we came face to face with a woman named Lenore Goldman - who coincidentally shared my own mom's maiden name. To say we were surprised was an understatement. We then learned that Lenore's husband Bernie was nearby undergoing heart surgery as well. Ironic? I think not. At that very moment, my mom and I truly believe that my grandpa Benny had sent us a sign that this time, everything was going to be okay.
As an adult, I have also experienced the sudden loss of my friend's young husbands to heart disease - both passed away of heart attacks, leaving behind their wives and young children. To think, that our friends could succumb to heart disease at the age of 39 was incomprehensible. From that moment on, I vowed to pay attention to my own heart health as well as my husband's.
That's why, when my dear friend Robin invited me to an event being spearheaded by her cousin, writer/producer Carole Isenberg and her longtime colleague and friend Pamela Serure --who suffered a heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery at the age of 47--I instantly said I would attend.
Following Pamela's recovery, the pair founded Events of the Heart , a non-profit organization that centers on raising awareness and funds to support Women's Heart Health by incorporating artists, actors and musicians into their events. On April 6, the pair launched the Million Women's Heart Project, a star-studded event that took place at fashion icon's Donna Karan's downtown studio Urban Zen and featured performances by musicians, award winning actresses and panel discussions with leading experts in cardiology, health and wellness and the media. The purpose of the event was to educate and empower women to take care of their own health and well being while not ignoring the warning signs of heart disease.
Here are just a few of the inspiring words that were shared that day (via my twitter stream):
The event, which featured incredible readings by Sarah Jones - who transformed into four different women in a matter of minutes; "Desperate Housewives" star Brenda Strong and Tovah Feldshuh, among others, shared the real life stories of women whose lives came to a grinding halt when they discovered they had heart disease. Feldshuh's speech was incredibly moving as she shared her family's personal experience of how her 95 year old mom's life was saved when a female doctor at White Plains Hospital urged her family to send her to Columbia Presbyterian's Teaching Hospital where she underwent an experimental heart procedure that saved her life.
While Events of the Heart shares stories of women who discovered they were having a heart attack and survived, many more succumb to the disease without even knowing they are in danger of losing their life. In fact, heart disease is the #1 killer of women - surpassing all cancers. As a result, Events of the Heart founders Carole Isenberg and Pamela Serure are making it their life's mission to make sure that women are heart healthy.
This week, the pair launched the Million Women's Heart Project which has teamed up with hospitals and US Wellness, which manages health education and screening events, to offer tests free to women, with costs paid by sponsors.
The project intends to collect data on the test results, along with women's stories about their lives and health. In fact, I shared my own message below to my mom - check it out .
Following the event, we walked through the Urban Zen boutique where I made a bee-line for a bowl that was filled with hand carved river stone hearts and purchased two - one for my myself and one for my mom. The hearts were created to support the Million Hearts for Haiti campaign which supports local artisans whose businesses were wiped out during the earthquake in Haiti. During the event, Donna Karan announced that a portion of the sales from those hearts would also be donated to the Million Women's Heart Project.
For more information, visit EventsOftheHeart.org and MillionWomensHeartProject.com . Plus, if you text HEART to 48510 you can help a woman who can't afford a test Courtesy of USWellness. Plus, you can share your own heart story or message on the Million Womens Heart Project website . Make a difference today in the lives of women and if you ever feel pain in your chest or have trouble catching your breath, don't dismiss it - the key to a healthy life is having a healthy heart!