Have you met Becky Smith?
hero_image_alt_text===An image of Becky Smith.
It has been 5 years since I joined the Maine AHA team as the Director of Government Relations. I took this job because I cared about public health and loved policy. I stay because of Kate.
When I joined the staff of the American Heart Association in June 2012, I had worked in public health policy for over a decade. As crazy as it may sound, I liked the ins-and-outs of the legislature. However, I needed to work for a cause I believed in. One that would help Maine. This job at AHA seemed like a perfect fit.
Little did I know, that just a few short months after I joined AHA my own little sister's heart would fail, ending her life at 38. Kate left behind 2 little boys and a devastated family. Kate had CREST syndrome and died from Pulmonary Hypertension. Her lungs were so damaged from PH that her heart could not pump hard enough to get the blood oxygenated and it failed.
None of us knew she was that sick and as a working mom, she ignored the signs. She was not correctly diagnosed until a few weeks before her death. Her death was very sudden. I barely made it to VA to say goodbye.
Now when I put on my suit and my red dress pin and head to Augusta, I think of Kate. I know that everything I can accomplish will move Maine towards our goal of reducing heart disease and stroke and saving lives. Fewer boys without moms.
I also think of Sarah, Amy, Therese, Mindy, Meredith and all the wonderful women who have seen, or will see their 39th birthday because of AHA research, education and evidence-based hospital protocols. I think of my own daughter and her generation growing up eating healthy foods, avoiding sugary drinks and tobacco and being physically active.
They are also my why. My inspiration. My reason to smile. What is your why? Please email me and let me know: [email protected].