By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
On Thursday night at The Arena in Corbin, the color of big blue took a back seat to a sea of big bright red.
In a place where basketball and concerts reign supreme on the floor, the night belonged to the ladies — especially those who survived the nation’s number one killer of women, heart disease.
Of the over 350 folks who came to the community educational seminar and dinner called “Ladies in Red,” several women used their special night out to celebrate their victory over heart disease, and their presence could be seen at many tables on the floor. For others, the occasion was a chance to learn how cardiovascular diseases can be fought and treated, through exhibits and speakers who passed on their experiences with matters of the heart.
But the true knockout punch came from the women who were there. And their red sweaters proved there is strength in numbers.
“I know several women here who’ve made it through heart attacks, and they came here to celebrate because they beat it,” said Pat Napier, of London, who joined friends Donna Disney and Clara Pennington at their dinner table to learn, see and be seen.
Napier — a former nurse practitioner who’s now semi-retired, except when she works with the kids at summer camp — made it to the event for the fifth straight year. “It makes people aware of cardiac diseases, and it’s a good place to learn about what’s developed in heart care recently. You can network with people here who’ve been through treatment, and those who’ve provided it. This night hits home the point that women do die of heart disease.”
“It’s a good community tool to have all this information here inside in one place, and the speakers have their own tips and experiences to pass along,” added Disney, a Corbin resident who’s a registered nurse’s aide at Christian Care Community of Corbin.
But the evening also gave the trio a chance to enjoy some fun.
“Yeah, we’re also catching up with old times. I used to work at the hospital and I know Pat and Donna, so it’s like a reunion,” noted Pennington, who retired, and hails from the northeastern Laurel County community of Greenmount, near the Jackson County line.
During the seminars, those attending got to find out to “Be Good to Your Heart” from Nancy Powell, the Dean of Health Sciences at Somerset Community College. And they had a “Heart to Heart” talk from Cathy Durham, a registered nurse at Baptist Regional Medical Center.
After they had a chance to stand up, stretch and take a dessert break, Corbin High School student Cassidy Phipps got them excited in Zumba — the Latin dance-inspired fitness program that involves aerobics and dance to get the blood pumpin’ and keep the body jumpin’. And WKYT-TV News Anchor Amber Philpot drove down I-75 from Lexington to tell of her experiences on letting oneself shine, both physically and mentally.
Outside the dining area, several exhibitors gave those who showed up reasons to keep their hearts healthy. BRMC’s Linda Mills was at one exhibit which asked folks to “Know Your Numbers.”
“Why is that important? Because it’s important to be healthy. Know your blood pressure numbers, exercise at least five days a week for 30 minutes, or break that down to two 15-minute sessions. We show them how to eat healthy, and to check their blood pressure numbers, which should be 130-over-80,” replied Mills, who’s the Diabetes Smart Coordinator at BRMC.
But as some women came up to the exhibit, Mills pulled out a bag of dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses, and put them on the table. She grinned and added, “And it doesn’t hurt to have a dark chocolate kiss, every once in a while. Once a day, in fact.”
Mills later mentioned a study in Sweden that showed dark chocolates, consumed in moderate quantities, have cardiovascular benefits. The study said that’s because the flavonoids in the dark chocolate act as antioxidants, which help to lower blood pressure and can cut LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol’ by as much as 10 percent.
Over at the Lifeline exhibit, Donna Helton and Cherri Phipps told those who stopped by that their service offered help to seniors and handicapped people of all ages “at the press of a button.”
“When seniors have a heart attack, or fall and can’t contact anyone, we’re the service that helps friends stay together,” said Helton, who’s worked for BRMC for 24 years, and with the hospital’s Lifeline program for seven years.
Phipps, a volunteer with Lifeline, has a family member and best friend who both use the service. “I’ve seen and heard people tell me numerous times how we’ve helped them.”
“A woman came here tonight, and her mother has this service. She told us if it wasn’t for Lifeline, her mother wouldn’t be here,” Helton stated.
Over at the exhibit from Baptist Physicans Southeast — a division of BRMC, Connie Farley, Ann Strunk and Brandi Kilburn discussed the human heart, and the team of doctors their group offers to help keep hearts healthy.
“Kentucky has a high heart disease rate, and through events like this, we show people there’s places and people who can help them treat it,” Strunk said.
Kilburn pointed out to a visitor who’s available to help at BPS. “Cardiologists, urologists, oncologists, primary care, and surgery are the options we offer them, among other services.”
“We’ve told many people tonight we want to get the word out about our doctors, and that they’re available in our community,” echoed Farley.
The event was put together by BRMC (Baptist Regional Medical Center), the Southern Kentucky Area Health Education Center (Southern Ky. AHEC) and Somerset Community College. Welcoming the audience before the seminars, new BRMC President/CEO Larry Gray told them this night was needed to help women be aware of heart and cardiovascular disease, and thanked them personally for coming out.
That is why Sharon Ferguson, of Corbin, showed up. Looking over an exhibit on how to treat diabetes, Ferguson said there was a good reason she came to The Arena’s main event Thursday night.
“Heart disease runs in my family. My father died of a heart attack when he was 41. That shook me up. To die at 41 from heart disease is no way to live your life. I came here to find answers, and to see what I can do to change my lifestyle so I can go the distance. I’m glad I came. I’m going to keep from having a heart attack, and I want to live a longer, happier life.”
Before she left, Ferguson said, “And when I turn 41, I’ll let you know.”
By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
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