My name is Jenny Hagen and I watched my sister Laurie walk down the runway of this very same show last year as a sudden cardiac death survivor. Never did I imagine that I would be following in her footsteps just one year later.
This past winter, I’d been feeling pretty exhausted and was having increasing heart palpitations. One morning this spring, I was starting my shift at the hospital and I was feeling really unwell, and I felt like I was going to lose consciousness. Luckily for me my co-workers are all in the medical field and one of them listened to my heart which was really irregular. Quickly my body began to break down; I couldn’t walk and my body was numb and tingly because of a lack of oxygen. My co-workers put me in a wheel chair and took me downstairs to the ER where they did some tests that revealed that I had structural issues with my heart. I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and worsening mitral valve prolapse. I was started on two cardiac medications and have been feeling much better, and this past September I received a defibrillator.
I always thought that the heart issue was my sisters “thing”, but last year my mom was diagnosed with the disease and now me. Thankfully we are catching it early and we can prevent becoming a cardiac death survivor like my sister. As a family we are going through genetic testing so we can make sure others in our family are aware of the disease.
My heart condition has changes my life in several ways. First, by making sure I prioritize my health. As a mom it is easy to put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, but if I am going to be around to watch my son grow up I need give myself permission to take care of myself as well. But it also changed my perspective of how other people experience a change in a state of health. I’m an oncology nurse, but now I have firsthand knowledge of knowing what it’s like to feel perfectly healthy one day, and then walking out of your doctor’s office with a life changing diagnosis. My personal journey has brought a deeper sense of empathy to my nursing practice.
I am excited to be a part of the “Live Life Beautifully” show, because I love that my story can help bring awareness that heart disease can effect people at all stages of life and fitness.
I am the only person that can change my life for the better. To me Living A Beautiful Life is a life I don’t take for granted. A life that is not passive. If there is a goal or an experience that I want, I need to go for it. Because now more than ever I know that my time is finite and every day is precious.
See Jenny and our nine other survivors walk the runway at the GJ Fall Event ‘Live Life Beautifully on November 12, 2014 at EMP Seattle. All proceeds benefit The Hope Heart Institute and Northwest heart health education. Tickets are on sale through November 9. Buy your ticket online today at gjfallevent.com.