As a twenty-something New Yorker and former journalist (still weird writing that), I’m fairly cynical. I’m usually sarcastic on this blog. I get a lot of awesome opportunities through living in NYC and having this blog that I sometimes take for granted.
But even my hardened heart softens sometimes.
Last night, I went to a truly amazing event–the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards.
Don’t let the silly pictures of me distract you from the seriousness of this event. Or, fine, let them distract you a bit, because it’s about to get a little serious up in here.
Me, Tina (she’s actually my honorary roomie, in case you didn’t realize that) and some sparkling rosÃ©.
So this is actually the second time I’ve been to the Red Dress Awards–I actually went last year when I worked for Woman’s Day. This year, Campbell’s Soup invited me as their guest, and I was honored to return.
The event’s held at the gorgeous Rose Hall at Lincoln Center and honors work that has been done to fight heart disease in women–which is the number one killer among women.
I only have pictures from before, since cameras weren’t allowed in the actual program, but Star Jones was one of the honorees. A few years ago, she underwent elective open-heart surgery after being told she had the early signs of heart disease–shortness of breath, heart palpitations and fatigue. Since then, she says she’s been making heart disease awareness her “entire life’s work.”
My buddy Dr. Oz was also one of the honorees. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital and focuses his research on heart replacement surgery and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. He told a story last night about doing open-heart surgery on a 25-year-old a few years ago and realizing that if he really did his job–if he really educated his patients on the dangers of heart disease and what they can to prevent it–that he wouldn’t have to perform open-heart surgeries. He wants to be put out of business, he says. Since then, he’s been doing his part to fight heart disease.
We also heard from Regina Benjamin, the U.S. Surgeon General (no bigs…), who was a tireless health advocate when she founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama. Despite the clinic being wiped out multiple times from hurricanes, she kept rebuilding.
Oh, and Hoda was the emcee. I <3 Hoda. She switches from serious to hilarious deftly, and I really love that in people.
Other honorees of note:
- Dr. Martha Gulati, who is a pioneer in studying heart disease in women, after realizing that the previous standards were based off of men. She was also wearing a pretty sweet Oscar de la Renta dress and Louboutins.
- Katherine Leon, who, with Laura Haywood-Cory, both victims of a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, work as WomenHeart champions to encourage women to take responsibility for their health.
- And Shermane Winters-Wofford, who suffered a stroke on a first date. She had pain in her chest and shortness of breath, but just thought she was nervous. She asked him to take her home so she could lay down, but he wouldn’t listen, and took her to the hospital. Spoiler alert: they’re now married. I cried big, sloppy tears at the end of this story.
Shermane’s story illustrates how women can be guilty of ignoring their symptoms because they don’t want to inconvenience others. You may laugh or roll your eyes at that now, but how many times have you pushed aside symptoms because you’re too busy or don’t think it’s worth worrying about? You are worth it, and sometimes little symptoms can be indicative of much more serious illnesses, so please take care of yourself. The stories I heard last night gave me the chills because they can happen to anyone.
It reminded me that healthy eating and exercise are so much more than looking good in a pair of skinnies–it’s really about taking care of yourself inside and out. #cheesealert
Thanks again to Campbell’s and Woman’s Day for having me!