Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Speaking alongside Dr. Anthony Fletcher, President of the Board of the American Heart Association!

In my 8 years as a spokesperson and lobbyist for the American Heart Association I have been honored to speak across the nation. I’ve spoken to the Legislative houses in several states, worked in session with lawmakers, and hand-in-hand with former Governor and former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In each of those situations I felt so blessed and honored to be there, but never nervous. I know that I have a mission, and that God has given me a passion for this work. However, when asked to be a keynote speaker at the recent St. Vincent Hospital Women’s Cardiovascular Seminar, alongside Dr. Anthony Fletcher, I was a nervous wreck! Dr. Fletcher is not only a leading specialist in the field of women’s heart health; he is also President of the Board of the American Heart Association, Heartland Affiliate. Being included in this event was by far one of the biggest honors I’ve received as an advocate, but to be a keynote speaker along with Dr. Fletcher was mind blowing! However, I was asked to speak BEFORE Dr. Fletcher. It was like having a living fact checker in my audience, who would then be speaking following my presentation. Dr. Fletcher was very kind, and listened intently as I spoke for my allotted 20 minutes. I was horrified that he would begin his presentation by saying “everything she just said is wrong”. Blessedly, that was not the case. Upon completing my presentation and taking my seat Dr. Fletcher opened his remarks for thanking me for my passion, my work, and my words. He then continued his presentation, which included several references back to what I had shared. Over and over he said “As my colleague Mrs. Berry stated”, or “as Laine shared with us earlier”. It was truly overwhelming! It was so validating to have my message so warmly received by one of the fields leading minds. Dr. Fletcher and I then took questions from the audience, and I was able to stand side by side with a man who heals broken hearts every single day. What a blessing, and what an honor! Also, the surgeon who performed my mothers’ surgery almost 8 years ago was in attendance. It was overwhelming to look into the audience and see Dr. Michael Bauer, and know that this man saved my mothers life with his own hands. I feel I have come full circle in this journey; it all began at St. Vincent Health Center, with my mother as a patient and me a worried family member. Now, 8 years later, I was given the opportunity to return as a champion for women everywhere. What a change time can make and what a miracle each the intervening years have been.