October—I’ve always looked forward to this month in the Lowcountry, with its near perfect weather and less crowded beaches and waterways, not to mention it’s the time that my mom, Edy, typically “moves here” for a four-week visit. This year, I’m sad to say, October will be bittersweet, as my beloved mother died suddenly from a heart attack in August, and she won’t be here for all the activities and excursions we loved to do together.
I’m sharing this highly personal and devastating loss with you for two reasons. The first of which is to thank my colleagues here at the magazine, who took over the production of this issue for two weeks without once interrupting my family’s grieving and the awful business of arranging a funeral. We had barely begun the issue when I received the horrible call and, shell-shocked, dropped everything to get to her home in Phoenix. On top of their own work, staffers and trusted contributors assumed my duties on the features, among other things, and produced a gorgeous, informative, and interesting issue. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their top-notch professionalism, as well as their thoughtfulness and caring. They loved Edy, too.
Second, I’d like to point out how important it is for women to know and understand the symptoms of a heart attack. Chest pain is typical for both sexes, but women can experience a heart attack without it. According to the American Heart Association, the symptoms for women include shortness of breath; pressure or pain in the abdomen; dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting; upper back pressure; or extreme fatigue. I am convinced that had my healthy, vibrant, never-miss-a-checkup, 72-year-old mother known about these signs, she would have gone to her doctor or the hospital for the “stomach-flu”-like symptoms she had weathered the two days leading up to her death.
As Edy was a devoted educator for her entire career, I know she would appreciate this teachable moment. If we educate ourselves, heart disease does not have to be the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Please visit www.heart.org and www.goredforwomen.org.