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A message from Chuck Hamsher, West Virginia Government Relations Director.

Advocate Spotlight
As an ordinary mother of three boys, Sharon Lyn Stackpole could not understand, at the age of 35, why she felt so tired all of the time. She no longer played with her three sons or attended their baseball games, and she had all but given up the creative outlets she loved most: drawing, painting, and writing.

She was often tired, light-headed, dizzy, and out of breath. Sometimes she fainted, for no apparent reason. Even going up and down stairs became difficult.

"I'd have to sit and rest on the edge of the bed for 20 minutes in between tasks," she said. "Or else I would pick just one thing to do during the day, and I'd save all my energy for that."

Doctors considered her symptoms but were reluctant to diagnose them as cardiac-related because she was "too young for that."

Sharon eventually thought, "Maybe this is just normal for me. I have small children, maybe they're just wearing me out."

Then, after having Sharon wear a Holter monitor, doctors discovered that Sharon Lyn had a heart condition called bradycardia, and tachy-brady syndrome. "The surgeon told me that between the pacemaker, and the use of a beta blocker to control the higher pulse rates, that would be as close to normal as I could get, " she said.

When she received a pacemaker, she found that she again had the energy for her family, her job, her writing, and her artwork. "I felt like I did when I was 18," said Sharon. "I was just revitalized."

“Even with all I had been through, I was reluctant to have the implant," she said. " I think I was just in denial. But my nurse said it would make a big difference, and it did.

"I noticed a change immediately. In fact, I was astonished at how much better I felt in the hospital. I really didn't know how sick I was until after getting the pacemaker, when I felt well again."

Since then, Sharon has become an amazing volunteer for the American Heart Association, donating one of her beautiful paintings every February—American Heart Month--as a fundraising auction item. In addition, she has become a top You’re the Cure advocate in West Virginia, even attending AHA’s 2009 Congressional Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. There, she was able to share her story with lawmakers, urging increased funding for heart disease research—research for the treatments and technology that allowed her to again keep up with her young boys.

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Welcome to the online home for American Heart Association advocacy in the Great Rivers Affiliate! The Great Rivers Affiliate includes Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

We update regularly about our ongoing legislative issues (for example: tobacco prevention and cessation, childhood obesity, nutrition, stroke and STEMI systems of care, etc). We hope this blog proves to be a resource to keep our amazing advocates up-to-date with our fast-paced legislative happenings!

You don't have to be a doctor to save lives - just an advocate with the American Heart Association and its division the American Stroke Association. In just a few moments, you can make a huge difference. All you have to do is respond to the issues and action alerts that you feel are important.

Join You're the Cure today!