Well Done Woman – Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters

Carolyn Thomas writes an award winning blog My HEART SISTERS on women’s heart health.  I “discovered” Heart Sisters when I was diagnosed with atrial fib and have reposted many of her informative posts.  

At the height of her career Carolyn had a “widow-maker” heart attack, named FOR the fact that most having this type of cardiac incident die.  To our benefit, Carolyn survived and is a patient advocate, speaking, writing and listening, to hundreds of women with their own stories on My HEART SISTERS.  

Carolyn is the author of A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease*

Carolyn Thomas, a WELL DONE WOMAN** with a BIG HEART

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Here’s Carolyn, in her own words (with a few edits, rearranges & colors by me, JW):

“. . . in May 2008, while working at the Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Society, I became a member of an exclusive club that nobody ever wants to join:  I was hospitalized for a myocardial infarction caused by a 95% blocked coronary artery – what doctors call the “widow-maker” heart attack.”

Until then Carolyn had been . . .   “just your average active, outgoing PR person, a longtime Run Leader at the Y’s marathon clinic, involved in a number of community and professional organizations – all while juggling a fun and busy social life with close-knit family and friends.”

“But here’s the frightening part of this story: two weeks earlier, I had actually been sent home from the same hospital’s Emergency Department with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux, despite presenting with textbook Hollywood heart attack symptoms like chest pain, nausea, sweating, and pain radiating down my left arm. “You’re in the right demographic for acid reflux!” was the confident pronouncement of my E.D. physician.”

“I left hospital that day feeling supremely embarrassed and apologetic because I’d made a big fuss “over nothing!”  I continued to suffer increasingly debilitating symptoms for two full weeks (but hey! at least I knew it wasn’t my heart!) until symptoms finally became so severely unbearable that I again sought medical help – this time to a revised diagnosis of “significant heart disease”.”

“I later learned (while attending the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at the world-famous Mayo Clinic) that, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, women my age and younger are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home from Emergency compared to our male counterparts presenting with identical symptoms.

I call my blogging “cardiac rehab for my brain”

“Since 1973 (when I was just a tiny baby), my work background has been in journalism,  communications and public relations. I’m a refugee from the Niagara Falls area to the balmy west coast of Canada; I’m the author of two travel books and one book about living with heart disease;  my little garden won a national garden contest from Gardening Life magazine; I once had lunch with His Royal Highness Prince Edward  (yesthat Prince Edward); and many years ago while I was a student at Queen’s University, I accidentally smashed our old Buick into the station wagon owned by “The English Patient” author, Michael Ondaatje. And that’s just about as much fascinating trivia as the average person can possibly stand knowing about me.”

“I have two grown kidlets who, luckily for me, both live here in their hometown . . . and my first grandchild), the ever-so-sweet happy girl, Everly Rose, born in May 2015.”

Back in 1997, I made what the Victoria Times Colonist called at the time a “riches to rags” career move when I decided to abandon the expense account world of corporate public relations in order to do something socially meaningful for a change. Thus I was able to round out my three decades of PR experience in corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors – ranging from Mercedes-Benz to the Salvation Army.

My very first “Pinot & Prevention” audience, 2008

My very first “Pinot & Prevention” audience in 2008

“I launched Heart Sisters blog in 2009, mostly just to help publicize my free “Pinot & Prevention” presentations on women’s heart health I started doing after returning from that Mayo training.  It’s now grown like Topsy, with over 15 million views so far from 190 countries! “

“My writing’s also been published internationally, including in the British Medical Journal.  And in 2014, the BMJ invited me to be a Patient Reviewer for cardiology papers submitted to the journal for publication, part of their innovative peer review process.”

*”Johns Hopkins University Press approached me in 2015 to ask if I’d ever considered writing a book based on my HeartSisters blog articles. Thus began a two-year adventure culminating in my book called A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease” (ask for it at your local bookshop or order online and save 20% off the list price by using the discount code HTWN when you order!) “or Order directly from my Canadian distributor, Brunswick Books.

WELL DONE Carolyn! WELL DONE

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We hope you enjoy and perhaps are even inspired by the series to celebrate women who, in our estimation, are “well done”.  

**What’s a “Well Done Women”?

  • She has weathered decades of life experience.
  • She’s navigated life changes – whether by choice, chance or necessity –  learns and continues to adapt.
  • She contributes to the world in diverse ways, small or large, sharing her values through social causes, charities, or caring for people, the planet & animals.
  • She is curious, creative and open to learning or having new experiences.