Last week, I attended a dinner here in Washington honoring two wonderful women; each of whom has made an enormous contribution to the health of women worldwide. One is Dr. Vivian Pinn, the former and original head of the Office of Women’s Health at the National Institute of Health and Dr. Noel Bairey-Merz, head of Women’s Cardiology at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.
I have been involved in women’s health since I myself was on the Board of the National Cancer Institute at NIH in the late 1980″s. At that time, I created NBA Wives Save Lives with Connie Unseld, wife of Wes Unseld, an all-star basketball player. The reason I created it was that the Cancer organizations were having difficulty reaching African-American women. I told a colleague I knew how to reach them and we had a wonderful all-day meeting of representatives of player’s wives from every NBA team on NIH campus. We had every team flag flying across the large room filled with bright, excited, women eager to go home to spread the word.
Again, in 1999, I discovered that heart disease is the number one killer of women.
I was stunned to discover that. I was a psychiatric social worker who specialized in chronic illness and I didn’t know that. If I didn’t know that, who did?
Again, I was challenged and with the help of two great sponsors, created the first woman’s heart disease campaign which then led to the Heart Truth campaign at NIH. We had a fun health fair and 2,000 women showed up in a major snow storm. Secretary of Health Thompson created National Woman’s Heart Day and we grew to seventeen cities. We have since screened over 100,000 women free and had over 250,000 women attend. I believe when you reach one woman you reach a large circle of people! We are now able to reach a woman anywhere in the world.
Last week, I spoke to the Minister of Health in Fiji who was on our web-site as we spoke! Incredible!
Stay in touch! Lots more happening!
Visit http://www.sistertosister.org/ for much more information on women’s health.