This is a photo of my mother taken several years before she passed away at the age of 68. She had a serious heart condition because of damage to her mitral valve when she contracted rheumatic fever as young teenager. She was in and out of the hospital many times and took many medications.
In 1962 when she was 50, she underwent emergency surgery to replace that valve with an artificial one. My step-father and younger sister actually drove in the night to the laboratory where the valves were being made. It was the day before Thanksgiving and she was the first patient to survive being placed on a heart-lung machine in an emergency situation and survive. She was written up in the local newspaper and several medical journals.
Her recovery period was a long one of several months. Once she was discharged from the hospital, I quit college to return home and take care of her.
Throughout her life she maintained a sense of humor, positivity, and a strong faith in her cardiologist, and an equally strong belief in God.
Twenty some years later, she contracted stomach cancer from which she died. She wanted an autopsy done in that her journey with pneumonia, replacement of the valve, and her health in general might provide science with information useful for the future. Her valve was still working perfectly; it was the cancer that took her otherwise healthy body.
Mother's health history taught me several things:
1. Eat healthy and a well balanced diet.
3. Find humor in everything you experience
4. Be positive; no need to cry over spilled milk, it won't put the milk back
5. Believe in your physicians AND God
6. Make the most of every day...every moment.
She shared with me about three near death experiences she had. She recalled them perfectly: seeing the beautiful light, surrounded by loved ones who had already passed, and "hearing" words spoken to her. For those three times she was told "you are not ready," and "you still have work to do."
She said, "Karen, never fear death because it is a beautiful experience."
Watching Mother deal with so many heart issues, I was determined I was going to be as healthy as possible. I did follow her advice about taking good care of my body. For the past 7 years I have faced the health challenge of ovarian cancer. I have endured major surgery and chemotherapy relatively well because for the past 70 some years I took good care of my body. At the time of being diagnosed I was only on one prescription pill, which was for insomnia, I was of normal weight, exercised, ate a well balanced diet, and was happy and content with life.
However, no body is perfect, but as Mother said, "The better health we have, the better we can heal from or tolerate the process of any disease."
Award winning book about my journey with ovarian cancer, its symptoms and risk factors. Available only on Amazon.com.
ALL PROCEEDS GO TO OVARIAN CANCER RESEARCH.