Banner Health Services  

Joan's Story:
Being with "family" matters


Joan - Heart Hero

When Joan was having her heart attack, she knew that she needed  to be with family.

Work family, that is.

As a longtime employee at Banner Desert Medical Center, Joan knew without hesitation that Banner Desert was the place for her to get the correct diagnosis and treatment for her chest pains.

Joan was in the middle of sewing 50 costumes for a church Christmas pageant when she just felt worn out. She kept taking naps but late in the evening, she got hit with a chest pain.

Joan, a veteran cardiac care nurse, knew this was serious. She took extra doses of aspirin and her blood pressure medication. Then, she calmly told her husband that he should call the paramedics.

And she was adamant about going to go to Banner Desert, where she worked for more than 25 years.

After being taken to the hospital’s Emergency Department and getting an angiogram, Joan learned she had five blocked arteries and needed bypass surgery.

She got the expert knowledge and kind attitude that she expected at Banner Desert. “This is such a good place to work. People here are so good, so caring. You walk down the hall and people say ‘Hi’ to you and smile.’’

Joan got to know the staff of the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation unit. She jokingly calls one her “personal trainer’’ because of the monitoring and encouragement she gave during Joan’s recovery. 

Looking back, Joan realizes she was a “nurse in denial.’’ Months before her heart attack, her hands hurt. It could have been all that sewing for the church Christmas pageant but Joan also knows that aching hands can also be a symptom of heart problems in women.

Joan now participates in the annual American Heart Association's Heart Walk to raise awareness about heart disease. She suits up in a homemade heart costume to walk the hospital hallways. It’s all part of her mission to educate people about heart disease.

Her advocacy is already paying off. After seeing her mother go through her heart attack, Joan’s daughter joined a gym and lost weight.

Joan, who relied on her strong faith during her heart attack and recovery, wants to spread the word about heart disease and how to prevent it. “I want to have a ripple effect. I want to tell the world.’’
Joan: I am living proof.

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