When her mom unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 56, Brenda Jones and her four sisters were left reeling.
Unaware of any previous risk of cardiovascular issues in their family history, it wasn’t until Brenda Jones sat down to think that she began recalling she had lost many relatives to unexpected heart attacks far too early in their lives. After the familial connection was made, Brenda’s grandmother encouraged Brenda and her sisters to be checked for their own heart health. They obliged, and no one was more surprised than Brenda when she, the athletic and physically active sister, was found to have a heart murmur. Requiring no further medical assistance, she continued to live a normal life.
Following Brenda’s third pregnancy at age 40, her doctor noticed something that he described as odd and recommended she see a cardiologist. Her doctor told her that her heart beat sounded as if he was listening to a washing machine. Brenda underwent a series of EKG’s and X-rays. The tests revealed that she had tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and the cause was Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) a hole in her heart
To ask Brenda how she felt in that moment, she will honestly tell you she was speechless. She had always been physically active and never felt a loss of energy or shortness of breath that may have hinted at her heart issues. It was hard to believe all that time, she had been living with a hole in her heart.
At the time, the only way to repair her ASD was open heart surgery: they would physically open her chest cavity, remove her heart, repair it, then replace it back into her chest. She recalls telling her cardiologist that her son, Brian would turn 1 that following Sunday, so the surgery would have to be that following Monday and she’d be there bright and early. That weekend, she wrote her other boys letters and told them how much she loved them. She prayed, cried, and told God “I know you didn’t give me this little baby so late in life to not have me be around to raise him.”
Her surgery went well, and her recovery time was significantly shortened because of her active lifestyle. She left the hospital in 5 days and was kept under external hospital observation for 5 weeks. Eighteen years out of that surgery, she has continued to live a full life.
Over the years, Brenda has found that taking time out for herself and giving back to her community help her stay grounded. As a long-term, highly engaged You’re the Cure advocate, Brenda has attended several State and Federal Lobby Days. She currently serves on the South Carolina Advocacy Coordinating Committee, and is also active with Heart Walk and Go Red For Women.”
We are thankful for Brenda’s willingness to share her story and her ongoing advocacy with You’re the Cure.