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Agatha Gordon, of Detroit, a 2019 Epic Heart Hero, shares her story:

 

As women, we are nurturing and always caring for others often leaving our own affairs, health, and life unmanaged.

My name is Agatha Gordon and in April of 2004, I took myself to the emergency room. 

An hour prior, I had taken aspirin to lower a fever. With no relief and the feeling that the pills were stuck, I was immediately escorted to a room, hooked up to monitors and an EKG was performed. I was informed shortly afterwards that I was having a heart attack.

It wasn’t a sharp pain and I wasn’t doubled over in agony. It was a pressure in the middle of my chest and if it hadn’t been for the fever, I would not have gone to the hospital.

I was in my 30’s and doctors questioned my daily activity. At the time I was a wife, mother of three school-aged kids, worked full time, was very active in my church, had volunteer jobs that I enjoyed and was enrolled in college full time. 

The doctors politely shared with me that if I wanted to live, I would have to make some decisions and basically quit everything. I was shocked because I thought I was handling everything, but I took the doctors advice. I began to focus on my family, my health and rest. 

For the next 15 years I would be under a cardiologist’s care, undergoing stress tests, echocardiograms, and EKGs on a regular basis.

My cardiologist determined that my heart attack was stress related. I didn’t want to have another episode, so I researched ways to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. I began to exercise. In March of 2011 I was invited to a Zumba class. After 45 minutes, I was addicted. I made Zumba a part of my schedule three days a week for four years. In December of 2015, I became a licensed Zumba instructor. In January of 2016, I began teaching classes. I started with one class a week. I currently teach five days a week, and twice on Wednesday.

My fitness journey made a dramatic turn when I met a fellow Zumba instructor, Sheila Gerard, in August of 2016, who is now a very dear friend. I was invited to a Vision Board party, where I listened to a young lady, LaTesha Stewart, tell her story about all the marathons she had run. I spoke with her and told her that I’ve always wanted to run  but that I was waiting for some of my friends to go with me. 

She mentioned that if she waited for friends, she would never do anything. She told me if I wanted to run, just do it. And I did – the next month. I signed up for a 5K and she came to support me and ran every step of the way. To date I have run a half marathon, four 10Ks, and 22 5Ks.

In April of 2017, I was admitted to the hospital. My diagnosis was sepsis; however, doctors were shocked that I was able to recover and credited my complete recovery to my physically active lifestyle. I was told that I should not have survived. During this time, I was teaching Zumba, training weekly for races and completing a race a month. My cardiologist has since told me that as a result of my continual physical fitness, my heart is healthy. 

After this year’s appointment in August, he is also clearing me from my every six month appointments to seeing him only as needed. Physical fitness is a big deal to me. I don’t care how bad I feel or how busy I am, I always make time to move. It literally saved my life.