As I mentioned last week, I recently transitioned Sister to Sister to Cedars Sinai Hospital and closed our office here in Washington. After sixteen years, it was time to do this.
Let me begin by stating without any reservations: Sister to Sister was one of the best things I have ever done. This project brought together so many activities I have been involved with for a major part of my life: heart disease, coping with chronic illness, women’s health, community involvement, gender issues, working women’s lives, and promoting action beyond awareness.
I loved the challenge and will always remember the gratification on the day that we did health fairs in twenty cities in one day across the country, averaging three to four thousand woman attending. And then to count the number of women that we screened growing to over 100,000! I am extremely proud of that.
So why did I close it down?
Since this is a blog, I will give the short answer.
I was greedy; I wanted these women to pick up where we left off. By that, I mean after they were screened, I wanted to make sure that they would do the follow up necessary to prevent heart disease and then I wanted to see that happen to large numbers of women. And I tried for a number of years with various campaigns; and we did succeed. But not in the numbers I had hoped we would get.
Then, I worked for several years trying to determine why there was so little follow up. What I discovered was a basic problem that women around the world are currently facing: Lack of time. Particularly, women taking time for themselves.
Since all of the details would make a book, not another blog, I feel good about taking this vital issue to this point of understanding. I know we made an enormous difference in many women’s lives; I know we took the issue as far as it could go at this point in time, and I feel good to have handed over all of our data and material to Dr. Noel Bairey-Merz at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. I have been working with them for over eight years and have full confidence they will move the issue forward.
Speaking to one of the top researchers at the Harvard School of Health, Dr. Walter Willett, I asked what it took to finally make a difference in the no-smoking campaign and his answer is one that I believe will serve the heart health campaign, as well.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it takes a number of different approaches to reach a final goal.”
I believe that will happen with women’s heart disease as well.