PIQUA — The keynote speaker at the American Heart Association’s Go Red Goes North Health/Wellness Expo and Luncheon reminded women to make themselves a priority.
Karen M. R. Townsend, PhD. shared her story Thursday at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center, telling the sea of red-wearing women she is a busy mother, wife and business owner, who had a cardiovascular event early one morning that changed the way she lives her life.
“I’m a person who is really busy, I didn’t have time for a heart attack,” said Townsend, author of “It All Started When I Stopped Using Lotion: One Woman’s Journey From Chaos to Calm.”
Townsend did not have a heart attack on that day, but was diagnosed with Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH), also known as an enlarged heart, a condition in which the muscle wall of heart’s left pumping chamber becomes thickened.
Townsend said she now takes better care of herself, and even carves out personal time for herself she calls PMS — Pamper Myself weekends.
“I have to be mindful of the fact that if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of anyone else,” Townsend said. “It is both acceptable and necessary to make yourself a priority.”
Townsend, who deemed the theme of the day, “Mother, Sister, Friend,” said so often times women devote their time and energy to others that they neglect their selves. She said she now lives by the mantra that “self care is not selfish.”
“If you are constantly giving to others, but never giving to yourself. If you’re toiling to make sure everyone’s life is organized and in order, but yours is in disarray. If you’re so focused on those around you that you make yourself an afterthought, then you, mothers, sisters and friends, are depleting yourself. And over the time, it is not a healthy situation.”
Townsend ended her time with a call to action to the women — and men — in the audience.
“To every mother, to every sister, to every friend, and to every man who loves a woman who is wearing read, it is my hope that today, or some day very soon, you’ll make a decision to make you a priority.”
Emcee Nancy Wilson of K99.1 FM said the goal of the Go Red event was to “help break the silence about the devastating impact that heart disease is having on our families.”
She also reminded attendees that one in three women will be claimed by cardiovascular disease, although 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented. She also touched on the need to eat right, quit smoking, exercise and other preventative care.
“Most important, if you feel something, let someone know,” said Wilson, who said her immediate family, including herself, has been affected by heart disease.
Jordan D. Francis, MPH, director of Wellness Services at the Lifestyle Enhancement Center at Wilson HealthCare, serves as the campaign’s local chair. He said those in the room gathered together for a like-minded purpose on Thursday.
“We’ve come together today to inspire lifestyle changes, to immobilize communities and to save lives,” Francis said of the mission of the Go Red campaign.
Guests also had the opportunity to participate in health screenings and to interact with healthcare professionals about topics like blood pressure, cholesterol, fitness, nutrition and stroke prevention.
CVS Health is a national sponsor of the campaign. Local sponsors include Miami Valley Today, Miami Valley Sunday News, Sidney Daily News, Premier Health, Wilson Health, Midmark, Edison State Community College, Wayne HealthCare, Neighbors Helping Neighbors of the Miami Valley, K991. FM and 98.1 WPTW 1570.