Go Red for Women: Grandma Ethel Is Why

Today, February 6, is National Wear Red Day, as part of American Heart Month. Tonight, I’ll be attending the Western Massachusetts American Heart Association poster unveiling of the Go Red Leading Ladies for Western Massachusetts. I’m one of them. And I’m passionate about heart health primarily because of one woman in my life who fell victim to this silent killer: my paternal grandmother Ethel.

American Heart Association Go Red for Women: Grandma Ethel Is Why
A few important things to know about my Grandma Ethel: she was an amazing lady. Born in Scotland, she came to the United States with her husband, surviving son (she had two daughters that died in infancy), sister, and mother-in-law three years after World War II ended. My grandfather had seen the writing on the wall with the NHS and wanted no part of it. Because he was an “exceptional alien” (talented Vaudeville performer), he was able to come over here.
I remember Grandma Ethel as a very kind, very loving, quiet lady who loved to read and spoil her grandchildren (my brother and me). She always had a hug for us. Sadly, she passed away when I was 9, while I was on a Girl Scout camping trip. I remember my father driving up to the campsite, white as a ghost. I remember my mother telling me, and I remember going to my tent feeling numb.

Grandma Ethel, reading
In June 2013, I completed the Red Dress 5K in West Hartford in honor of Grandma Ethel. At the end of the month, I’ll be running The Woodlands Half Marathon in The Woodlands, Texas, as a tribute to Grandma. (If you want to donate: Help Me Save Women’s Hearts)
Back in the 1980s, when Grandma Ethel passed away suddenly of a heart attack, we didn’t know as much as we do now. We didn’t know, for example, that one in three women die of heart disease or stroke every year, nor did we know that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented just with lifestyle changes. Heart disease is not limited to men. Go Red for Women is all about preventing heart disease in women. We listen to so much music about broken hearts; it’s time for us to think about our beating hearts and take care of them.
Whatever you’re doing today, commit to lifestyle changes that can help you thwart heart disease: this Life’s Simple 7 article on Go Red for Women will help you on your way. What are you doing to protect your heart? Comment below!

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