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Joyce’s story


“I think I just need to sit down on the curb for a minute.”

Toward the end of a long bike ride through the country, Joyce Douwes thought she would take a break and let the lump in her throat subside. Instead, the discomfort got worse and ended up being the beginning of a life-changing heart attack—not something many people expect from a fit 47-year-old who exercises regularly and watches her diet carefully. 

And yet, it happens to thousands of women across Canada every year.

In Joyce’s case, it was probably her healthy lifestyle that saved her life. That, and the incredible people at the St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Centre. 

For many women, the realization that heart disease is a real risk comes as a surprise. “I would never have pegged myself as a candidate and I was shocked when the doctor told me I needed immediate intervention to get my arteries repaired.” Joyce remembers. 

Joyce’s recovery wasn’t certain but she pulled through, and today she is a vital member of the St. Mary’s family as she volunteers at our hospital and spends her time talking with other heart patients. She tells them her story and listens to theirs.

 “For so many people, a brush with heart disease provides an opportunity to take stock of life and put everything in perspective. Most realize how lucky they are to have survived, and all of them are grateful to have such a world-class heart centre right here at St. Mary’s. I consider it a gift to have the chance to help people get through it.”

We see it as a gift too. A gift to have someone like Joyce so willing to advocate on our behalf; to tell her story and to urge other women to learn more about their own risk factors. Considering heart disease is the leading killer of women in this country, it is a responsibility we all share. You can help today with a gift of your own.

We have been asked by the cardiac team to raise $1.8 million for a new CT-Scanner that will allow our physicians to diagnose heart disease earlier and more accurately, leading to better outcomes for our patients, including the nearly 5,700 women we treated for heart disease last year. 

Your generosity will allow our doctors to beat back the advance of heart disease in this community. It will save lives every day. Lives like Joyce’s.

Thank you for considering this request and for your ongoing support of our work.