A Cardiac Arrest Survivor Discusses the Heart of the Matter
Advocacy A survivor shares her advice and inspiration for other women with heart disease.
“I truly believe that my life started over on October 25, 2011,” says Mary Steele.
On that fateful day, at age 59, she suffered a massive cardiac arrest and went into a coma for five days—four days before her youngest daughter’s wedding. “I knew without a doubt when I woke up from the coma and learned what had happened, that I had been given an enormous gift,” Steele says, “a second chance at life.”
"'I thought I didn't have time to have a problem until it was almost too late.'”
Before and after
Before the cardiac event, Steele’s life was focused on the demands of being a single mother of three and a full-time teacher. She didn’t make time to exercise or eat healthy food, even though she was a Type-2 diabetic.
“Like so many other women, I thought I didn't have time to have a problem until it was almost too late,” she says.
Now it’s a different story. Steele has lost more than 100 pounds and committed to making health a priority. “Losing weight, learning to love to exercise, eagerly anticipating a bowl of roasted vegetables for my dinner all add up to the quality of life I wish I’d had earlier,” she says.
Steele is on a mission to help others change their lives.
In 2014 she attended the Science and Leadership Symposium sponsored by the National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease (aka WomenHeart). “Being trained as a community educator at the Mayo Clinic has been a blessing.” Thanks to all this positive change, Steele says, “I am a new person.”