Last month, I spent a weepy week feeling very nostalgic – in an oddly happy way. Because last month was the 8th annual WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at the world-famous Mayo Clinic — a joint effort hosted by Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. And I was feeling so nostalgic because exactly one year earlier, five months after my own heart attack, I had flown to Rochester, Minnesota to attend the 7th annual Symposium – the first Canadian ever invited to attend.
Each year, 50-60 women, all heart disease survivors, spend five days at this life-changing Symposium learning about heart disease, receiving support from other women and medical professionals, and developing skills to become advocates for women’s health back in their home communities. The only goal is to raise awareness of heart disease in women – our #1 killer.
In the video below, Symposium leaders Dr. Sharonne Hayes, Lisa Tate and Carol Allred share their thoughts about this unique cardiology training event for women.
This year, over 60 women – all heart disease survivors – gained invaluable insight into their disease, becoming, as cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes describes: “women who go from being victim patients to gunning for bear!” Most importantly, Symposium graduates are “changed for life”, as Dr. Hayes says, inspired to return to their own communities to share what they’ve learned.
Says Traci Klein of Mayo Clinic:
“It’s amazing to watch the women connect and recognize the power they have to help others.”
In fact, more than 450 women who have graduated from the Symposium over the past several years are now doing public presentations, media interviews, running cardiac support groups, and coming up with countless other creative ways to help spread the word about heart disease to other women back home. Grad surveys show that 45% of these Mayo graduates have actually been credited with saving someone’s life.
Their stories are profound and powerful, including:
* a 24-year-old who received a heart transplant at the age of 15
* a 42-year-old who says the Mayo Clinic Symposium “heals your soul”
* another 42-year-old who wants women to take care of themselves first so they are well enough to take care of others
* a 51-year-old whose heart disease is still somewhat of a mystery
* a 48-year-old who wants to encourage all young women to take care of themselves now
- Mayo Clinic’s ‘WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium’ featured in TIME magazine
- Going to Mayo Clinic (my own story of my trip to Mayo)
- Why we keep telling – and re-telling – our heart attack stories
- What I Learned at Mayo Clinic was Shocking: my essay in the Sharing Mayo Clinic website.