Have you seen our newest cause warmer? Heartfelt benefits the American Heart Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. It’s a beautiful warmer supporting a great cause, and we know our Consultants are excited about it. But no one may be more excited than a Consultant in Long Island named Belinda Jenkins.
Belinda has had 13 heart attacks. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around that number when I first heard it — how does someone endure 13 heart attacks and survive? But that’s not the only confounding number: Belinda is 35, and suffered her first heart attack at 26. Her 13th was two months ago.
I called her at her home in Long Island and her warm, bubbly personality practically reached out and hugged me through the telephone line. It was immediately clear why she has been such a great spokesperson for heart disease awareness in her area.
Belinda was totally open about her story: She had preliminary symptoms before her first heart attack but didn’t recognize them; she chocked it up to indigestion. “Because who would think of a 26-year-old having a heart attack?” she says.
She finally realized what was happening because she had a “classic male heart attack,” she says. Symptoms for women are often different than they are for men, but Belinda experienced chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea before she passed out. When she came to, she called the ambulance. Her treatment included major surgery; she’s had a quintuple bypass. She discovered that she suffers from coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure, all of which have been compounded by her Type I diabetes.
Belinda went from an extremely active 26-year-old working a full-time job and going to school (her first heart attack occurred the day before her finals) to being on permanent disability at 32.
“It was a lot to bear and incredibly saddening,” she says. “One can get very, very depressed being so young and having an ailment like this.”
Belinda was looking for an outlet when she discovered Scentsy at a party and fell in love with the product. She joined on Dec. 16, 2010, and has enjoyed the additional income her business has brought her. She has also gained a network of fellow Consultants across the country.
“My lifestyle, my being, my physicale has changed dramatically from where I was almost 10 years ago when I had my first heart attack,” Belinda says. “It’s a lot — you roll with the punches, you pray to God you have a supportive network of people around you, whether it be family and friends or your Scentsy sisters.”
Those “Scentsy sisters” were the ones who told Belinda about Heartfelt. Unable to attend Spring Sprint, Belinda began receiving emails from Scentsy friends around the country who saw the new warmer during the event and immediately thought of her. Belinda says she was “elated” to discover the American Heart Association would be the beneficiary of this season’s charitable cause efforts in the United States.
Raising awareness is important because heart disease can affect anyone, Belinda says.
“It doesn’t have a name, an age, a race, or a face,” she says. “There are itty-witty babies with heart disease. We say, know your numbers: your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your family history.”
Talking to Belinda was a reminder that this disease isn’t something that happens to other people — as she mentioned, it can happen to anyone. But we can do our part to support the effort to fight it. I hope you’ll take Belinda’s story to heart (pun intended!) and help us support the fight against heart disease in the U.S. and Canada. Let us know what you’re doing to support Heartfelt below — we would love to hear your story.