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Therese Cahill - Maine Advocate

Therese found new purpose after a health scare. Read her story.

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hero_image_alt_text===Therese and her family.
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While dancing with my mother one Saturday evening in 1989, my father suffered significant chest pain and was rushed to the local hospital. While it appeared it may be a heart attack, there was no external damage to his heart, and therefore they did not diagnosis him with such. After two days, he was transferred to a larger hospital where an internal evaluation of his heart revealed much damage. Three days later and three weeks before my 21st birthday, this man I idolized and greatly depended on suffered a second and fatal heart attack at the age of 54.

Fast forward 25 years, and it was me, at the age of 46, laying in the hospital being told it appeared I had heart attack only there didn’t appear to be any external damage to my heart. To say those words jolted me is a total understatement. I had been not feeling right for about a week…chest pains, exhaustion, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain and back pain. A mother of two young girls, I was a little too busy to stop and figured that I was just coming down with something. It was easy to explain away the symptoms…at least until that moment.

Seeing the look of fear and sadness on the faces of my girls, hearing the worry and distress in my mother’s voice, and having to face my own mortality changed me forever. Not only did I not want to die, I wanted to live a much more focused, purposeful, and healthy life. For the past three and a half years, I have done just that and have never been more at peace, healthy, and present in life.

Part of being purposeful is giving back and volunteering for the American Heart Association as a member of the Advocacy Committee. The impact of this work is both global and personal; being a part of this greater cause allows me to share my story and to help educate and promote policy changes to assist other Mainers in being healthy. It also allows me to work towards improving the likelihood that my girls will have a better chance of preventing any predisposition they may have to heart disease. Best of all, I have been able to share this volunteering experience with them, as they have both volunteered for AHA as well. We so appreciate AHA and are grateful to have the opportunity to join in this work!

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