Townsend woman takes victory over health struggles to heart.
hero_image_alt_text===An image of Sandi Holloway
Sandra Holloway, a Townsend resident who went into heart failure five years ago, shared her story with state lawmakers to raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women. Holloway, 51, was recently crowned Mrs. Massachusetts International 2018 and has used the platform to advocate for women's heart health.
Sandi, knows from experience. She regained her health and strength despite years of serious illnesses. Her doctors did not think she would live to see 30. Instead she is flourishing and wears a pageant crown.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in her 20s, Holloway allowed her weight to balloon. Obese after a pregnancy, she had a gastric bypass go wrong. It was reversed. The weight she lost was regained and then some. The now tiny woman weighed in over 350 pounds. Chemotherapy and finally a stem cell transplant sent her reoccurring cancer into remission, but at a cost. The chemotherapy left her heart weakened. A heart attack left her in a wheelchair on oxygen barely able to walk across the living room. When her son left for boot camp, she could not be there. Instead of sitting back, angry and waiting to die, she took charge. "I just wanted my son and daughter to understand I would be OK," she said. Her journey to fitness had its perils. A simple thing, such as a walk outside, could send her to the hospital.
Since then, Holloway has worked hard to regain her health. She has lost 250 pounds and has been able to maintain a healthy weight. "As a woman, I understand that especially in society today, we don't slow down and pay attention to the fact that we need to take care of ourselves," said Holloway. "Understand your factors, understand your blood pressure. As women, we need to take care of ourselves, so we can be an inspiration to our children and our communities."
For Sandi, being Mrs. Massachusetts International is not about beauty. It is an opportunity for her to empower women in all aspects of their lives to be the best versions of themselves.
"It's a platform for women's accomplishments," she said. As part of her Mrs. Massachusetts duties, she will speak to school and community groups about bullying and to support Go for Red, an American Heart Association outreach for women.