Meet the Survivors: Mariella

My name is Mariella Galvez, and I am 60 years old. I was born in Iquique, Chile and moved to Seattle in 1977 as a refugee. I am a mother, a grandmother of four beautiful grandsons and an advocate in my community for students in the migrant community.

One Saturday in the fall of 2008, I began feeling very sick, nauseous, tired and I thought I was getting the flu. I went all day trying to feel better. I had a gathering with my friends and decided to go, thinking that I would feel much better later. I collapsed in their bathroom. I was disoriented and had the chills. My friends decided to call the ambulance, but I refused; so they took me to emergency room. I didn’t believe this was happening to me, I was having a heart attack. But this was coming, because I was not taking care of my diabetes, my blood pressure and my cholesterol.

After this event, I followed the doctor’s recommendation and took my medications until I felt I was better and I thought I didn’t need them anymore. Then I had a second heart attack in December 2013. This was my pivotal moment when I realized that if I wanted to live longer I needed to take care of myself and pay more attention to what my body is telling me. Since my second heart scare, I have been paying more attention to the signs. As women, we tend to forget about how tired and stressed we are and we do not take care of ourselves. I always put myself last on the list.

Since last December I have been getting up at 5:00 am to walk at least 3 times or 4 times a week. I feel so much better and full of energy. There are days when I do not feel like doing it, but I tell myself, “It’s good for me”. I just turned 60 and I want to live a longer life so I can enjoy my beautiful grandbabies! I want them to know me and be there for a long time; so I can teach them, tell them stories and play with them. They are the love of my life.

I am excited to walk the runway and to meet other women like me and learn how they cope with their heart condition.

To me, Living Life Beautifully means loving myself, being healthy, positive and remembering everyday is a blessing – “La vida es bella disfrútala al máximo”!

See Mariella 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