Kent State Employees’ Personal Stories Inspire Women to Take Charge of Their Health | Kent State University

Kent State Employees’ Personal Stories Inspire Women to Take Charge of Their Health

A room full of red became silent as two women from the Kent State University community brought to life their surprising personal medical scares. The audience reacted with audible gasps and tear-filled eyes as the speakers’ stories hit home: This can happen to any of us.

Cardiovascular disease and stroke kills approximately one woman every 80 seconds, while an estimated 44 million women nationally are affected by the disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Kent State hosted its third annual Women’s Heart Health Luncheon, Go Red for Women: Feeding Your Healthy Heart, co-sponsored by the Division of Human Resources (Employee Wellness) and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Women’s Center).

Women wearing their best Go Red attire completely filled the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

Sharing Their Stories

Jennifer Miller, assistant dean of student and accreditation services in the College of Public Health, and Amy Miracle, a health sciences assistant professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, shared emotional, personal stories of their own battles with heart health.
Kent State's Jennifer Miller and Amy Miracle shared their health scare stories with other women at the Women’s Heart Health Luncheon.

“Many of us think to ourselves, ‘that’s not going to happen to me, it’s not possible, I eat right, I exercise, I’m healthy,’ and I thought the same thing,” Ms. Miller says.

At the age of 28, Ms. Miller suffered a heart attack. After arriving home from a trip abroad, she started having trouble breathing, walking and completing simple tasks, such as unloading the dishwasher. Luckily, Ms. Miller has an emergency training background and knew something was wrong.

She immediately called an ambulance. At the hospital, she found out there was a 95 percent block in her left anterior descending artery. Ms. Miller says that no one expects they will be the one to have a heart attack, but understanding your body can help prevent them.

Dr. Miracle does not have an emergency training background, and she missed the warning signs.

Waking up with neck pain, Dr. Miracle became dizzy and short of breath, she laid on the ground as she felt a sensation run down the side of her body. She was having a stroke. All she remembers is her husband and three-year-old daughter at the time standing over her in a panic.

“Did I just have a stroke?” Dr. Miracle remembers asking her family.

Her husband drove her to the hospital that day. The doctors were unable to provide a concrete diagnosis and sent her home, saying it was just vertigo. So she went home but did not feel right.

Determined to have an answer, she repeatedly went back to the hospital where a neurologist worked tirelessly to help Dr. Miracle. After three days, they had their answer. She suffered from a stroke.

“A stroke was never a consideration, and I couldn’t figure out why I felt this way,” Dr. Miracle says.

Dr. Miracle encourages women to seek out medical help if they feel something is not right. 

“You are your best advocate for your health,” Dr. Miracle says. “If you are concerned, persist and talk to your doctors.”

Taking Charge of Your Health

On top of understanding your body, Kathy G. Wise, licensed registered dietitian and director of employee wellness at Summa Health, recommends knowing your numbers, finding out about your family’s genetic history and being aware of risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

“If you feel any symptoms at all, take a trip to the emergency room or visit a doctor,” Ms. Wise says. “It may save your life.”

Ms. Wise suggests parking further away on campus to give yourself a longer walk, taking a cooking class to learn how to cook heart-healthy meals and making sure to take a time out each day to let your body recharge. She understands women, especially mothers, have the need to help others, but she points out that you must be healthy in order to help anyone else.

“You have to put your health first so you can be the fabulous women that you are and do the fabulous things that you want to do,” Ms. Wise says.

“It’s important for us to be vigilant of our own self-care,” says Kim Hauge, director of employee wellness at Kent State. “This is often the thing we sacrifice first when life’s priorities take over, and Jennifer and Amy’s stories only emphasize that importance.” 

Knowing your body, recognizing when something is wrong, and practicing preventive and self-care so that you can be the best you are some of the important messages for our Go Red event, says Ms. Hauge.

The Kent State Employee Wellness office offers a Wellness Your Way Rewards Program where eligible employees can earn up to $300 in wellness incentives by participating in preventive care, as well as other healthy lifestyle activities, such as being tobacco-free, attending educational lunch and learns, physical activity or mindfulness activities.

The Division of Human Resources partners with Be Well Solutions, a physician-owned, comprehensive wellness company, in order to give employees the best care.

Be Well Solutions can administer on-site or telephonic health coaching sessions. Sessions are individualized, and employees talk directly with a Be Well health coach with expertise in exercise, nutrition, stress management, tobacco cessation or general health. To make your appointment today, log in to your personal portal at portal.bewelldata.com or call Be Well Solutions at 1-888-935-7378.

Understanding your body and self-care is necessary for well-being, but seeking expert medical advice could save your life.

Visit the Employee Wellness digital calendar at www.kent.edu/hr/benefits/current-wellness-offerings to find out how to get involved.