Nĭ Hăo! I am Nancy Lee, an AHA supporter since the 1990’s and former VP of an International Bank. People often asked me, ‘why do you volunteer, why AHA?’ Well, I choose to give over receive. Everyone needs a healthy heart and AHA’s mission is to offer just that - “a life free of cardiovascular diseases & stroke” but another reason is the amazing people I’ve met.
My AHA journey began as a volunteer at the Heart Walk. Later I took on a volunteer role as the Multicultural Initiatives (MCI) Chair on an advisory committee in Greater Seattle and a task force member for the Western States Affiliate. MCI is an important bridge to connect communities of color to achieve cardiovascular health. Today, my duty is continuing to grow as I venture into Advocacy work with the AHA.
My family was free of cardiovascular diseases & stroke until seven years ago. In 2010, my father casually told me over the phone that he felt a little short of breath and was having chest pain. I told him these were warning signs and he needed to go to the Emergency Room (ER) but my “strong-minded” father said, “I am okay. No need for the commotion/trouble.” Quickly, I drove to his house where I found him watching TV and refusing to go to the ER. Like father like daughter (stubborn), I insisted he go to the ER. The next day, my father woke up with two stents placed in his arteries.
Around the same time my mother was having difficulty in walking even for a short distance. Repeatedly, her explanation was that she was just tired because of her bad back. She would quietly lay in bed and hope the discomfort would go away. A month after my father’s “commotion,” he called and said mom was yet again experiencing shortness of breath. I asked her if she felt even a tiny bit of numbness on her left side like her arm. Yes, she said and confessed her continuous breathing issue. I insisted she go to the ER - my mother received a pacemaker the following day.
Many elderly Asian women in America tend to be more reserved like my mother. After more education and persuasion, my mother became a Go Red For Women® ambassador for the AHA, appearing on a billboard campaign to inspire women to take charge of their heart health in 2015. She wants to help spread awareness about women and heart disease!
With medication and healthy diet, my parents’ high blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol are now under control. The Chinese refers this combination as the “three-high.” I am likely to have these diseases because of my family genetics but I am not afraid. I am proactively living an active life to minimize my risk.
The AHA funds life-saving research (e.g. pacemaker and stent); that saved my parents and many others lives and that is why I donate and volunteer my time to the AHA.