Rally For Red: My Story shared with ABC15’s Katie Raml: Heart Health Advocate
Updated: February 6, 2015
September 15, 2014
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – A Valley woman is urging others to step up as their own heart health advocates, something she says helped save her life.
Melayna was an active high school senior when she began having symptoms and knew something wasn’t right.
“I literally would double over. I’m thinking, ‘there is something wrong.’ I was getting crushing chest pains and couldn’t breathe,” Melayna recalled.
Her parents took her to doctor after doctor, only to hear the same thing — that nothing was wrong.
Instead of being dismissed, Melayna’s last year of schooling would bring the biggest lesson: persistance.
“Finally, after a series of echocardiograms, they found it,” she said. “It was a tumor the size of a cherry on my heart.”
The diagnosis, she incredibly says, wasn’t scary, but was actually a relief.
“Finally someone believed what I was saying, that there’s something wrong.”
Seven months of searching turned into five hours of surgery.
While her open heart left her with a scar, the message she took out of it was equally as lasting: be your own health advocate.
“I think that’s one of the things I’m fighting for now, that patients take their healthcare into their own hands,” Melayna said. “Not just which plans you choose, but if you are going to the doctor make sure you get a copy of your charts.”
So what’s the most important thing?
“I think it’s that determination and drive that each patient has to have for themselves to make sure they stay healthy. I feel so fortunate because I am one of the lucky ones,” she admits. “My story — even though I had open heart surgery — is a success story.”
Katie was kind not to mention the date for surgery, May 1, 1990; and, the upside of living with my parents again-they had all my old yearbooks and prom picture which she requested for the segment. Funny how senior year prom is usually the most important thing in a girl’s life at that time; but, for me it was deciding between the pig valve (I do like bacon) or the jarvik (mechanical) valve. Nothing like a lil chest cracking to put life into perspective-quickly!
If you’d like to read more about the medical treatment leading up to the surgery and how and why I decided to get into medical device sales below is a four part series: It’s Called a Heart