Courtesy of The Times
CROWN POINT | One year ago, Cynthia Williams was 41, had a 2-week old baby and was in an intensive care unit diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
Thursday, Williams, now healthy and vibrant, spoke to a sea of red-clad men and women at the Crown Point Go Red For Women kickoff luncheon.
"I was faced with a challenge which no woman should have to face," Williams, who has three children and works for the federal government, said. "My story concludes as a success story because of technology advances made possible by the Heart Association."
The luncheon at SS. Peter and Paul Macedonian Banquet Hall was sponsored by Methodist Hospitals, ArcelorMittal, The Times Media Co. and the Franciscan Alliance.
Luncheon guests were greeted by Ian E. McFadden, CEO of Methodist Hospitals. Crown Point Go Red Chairman Cindy Beckman also addressed the capacity crowd.
"Hearts are more than physically beating in us; hearts are the center of our joy, the center of our mind and our will," Beckman said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Andre Artis, of Methodist Hospitals, told the audience that when he began practice 30 years ago, it was believed that women and blacks were not at risk for heart disease.
"Now we know that heart disease is a problem and is the No. 1 killer of women."
Artis said many people don't realize that lower back pain, stomach aches, nausea sweating, vomiting and even hot flashes can be warning signs of a heart attack in women.
He said a woman has a heart attack in the U.S. every minute; 42 percent of women who have a heart attack die within a year; and 267,000 women die annually from a heart attack, which is at a rate six times higher than deaths from cancer.
"It is important for all of us to know that women are just as much at risk at men are," Artis said. "So eat healthy, exercise often, smile a lot - that makes a big difference."
Crown Point Mayor Dave Uran read a proclamation designating the first Friday in February as Go Red in Crown Point Day. Uran, who lost his mother three years ago to a stroke, said the awareness of heart disease has changed his life.
Uran said he began jogging again and pledged a dollar for each mile he ran during the past year, which resulted in a $1,200 donation to Go Red For Women.