Lobby Day was indeed an amazing experience, with incredible advocates from all across the country. As our important work continues after Lobby Day, we want to continue to introduce you to fellow You’re the Cure advocates who are fighting for heart disease and stroke patients. Today, meet… Terri and Shayna Turner from Arizona.
Terri and Shayna just attended Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. and Terri shared their story with us.
My story begins with the unexpected death of my 49 year old sister from a massive heart attack. She had fallen very ill the night before and by the next day, before her lab results came back, she had left us to be with the lord. Why? That question would never be answered as the doctor had canceled the autopsy.
A year and a few months later, Mom leaves my 2 brothers, other sister, and me to greet our older sister; massive heart attack, once again no warning. I had already started asking questions after my sister’s death, and continued on that path only to repeatedly be told, “You are young and healthy, and your cholesterol is fine”.
A few years later I receive a phone call from one brother, that our older brother had died while snow blowing; no warning signs, he was 53. I really began asking questions and asked the doctors to do more. I was told there is really nothing more to do, that they could not explain what was going on…my other brother and I obviously figure out that some kind of genetic heart disease must run in our family. We were brought up with very healthy eating habits and physically active. I am a vegetarian.
A few years later I receive a phone call from my sister-in-law; my other brother died of a massive heart attack while driving home; he was 54, once again, no warning signs.
Shayna and I have no choice but to stand proud, head and shoulders above the crowd, as we face our losses. Shayna and I feel we have been left behind to help others who face life’s trials with heart disease, just as we are.
As the baby of the family, I find it incredibly hard to comprehend why a person should have to go through this before being heard. I later found out that a simple blood test, covered by insurance, would have detected the very rare, but not unknown genetic heart disease that has struck our family.
I took it upon myself to have my 11 year old daughter tested although so many people said she is “too young”. We both see the same specialist of heart disease and genetics. We take daily medications and continue to exercise and watch what we eat. Shayna is also a vegetarian.
Shayna and I are survivors with what took their lives all too soon…our fight is one against a very rare genetic heart disease of which there are only about 40 known cases world wide.
In our life faced with heavy burdens and many challenges, we choose to be for a cause for the cure together. We strive to have great experiences in life, and along our journey in life we are on a mission to keep our family’s legacy alive by doing any and all things possible to send out a loud and clear message toward the importance of funding for research into heart disease.
Why should my 15 year old daughter have to live with the thoughts of passing this disease on to her children? She is already facing each and every day with the fear of losing her mom. I continue on my journey of beating this for her through my actions and words… we are going to beat this and that is why funding for research is so important and definitely needs to continue. We dream that our story is such an important reminder that even in challenging financial times, the need for supporting important causes does not go away. Without the ongoing support of volunteers and donors, lives will be lost, sometimes all too soon… we would like to keep our mission on the path of awareness and continue to move forward with this mission as advocates. Through these efforts, we hope to ensure that lifesaving research and programs can continue to benefit families affected by heart disease and stroke today and tomorrow.
The hurt and loss we carry inside is a burden that we get through by faith, it does not make it go away, but we choose to focus on living our life each and every day and to always follow our dreams… when one part of our journey ends we remember that it is not the end, but instead another beginning. When one discovery is found, it can lead to the discovery of one, or many other leads to a cure.
We have to look at life with a new purpose, what better purpose than to advocate with all the wonderful people who work for the AHA. We will take our time when we reach a crossroads; we will be mindful of each step we take, otherwise we may get off track. We strive to keep our ideas exhilarating, but won’t translate that feeling into speed, but instead translate it into dedication and perseverance…
Terri and Shayna are survivors and passionate advocates for the American Heart Association. Stay tuned for ways you can join them in fighting for those affected by heart disease and stroke.