Did you know that the leading cause of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease? It claims almost as many lives each year as the next SEVEN leading causes of death combined.
Unfortunately, heart disease is something my family is very familiar with. On October 14th, 1980, my Pop-pop, William J. Kishbaugh, Sr., age 51, suffered a massive heart attack and passed away after doing outside housework. Almost 22 years later, on May 26, 2012, his son, my father, David E. Kishbaugh, age 43, passed away the same way.
This May will be the 20th anniversary of my dad's passing. I was 12 years old.
I can remember that day vividly; it was Memorial Day weekend and my mother and I were driving home from a picnic and as we did, we passed him walking down the lane and heading to my nana's house. I remember thinking he looked irritated, but I figured it was due to the heat and doing yard work all day. I was wrong -- he was suffering from a heart attack and moments later I could hear my nana's horrified screams and see her running towards our house. I ran down to meet her. She told me to go inside and get my mom, so I did.
We lived eight minutes from the hospital; it took an ambulance over an hour to arrive to my nana's. The entire time, my older sister, Maria and I paced around our home as she tried to assure me (and I think also herself) that "everything will be OK."
A few hours later, my mom, aunt, and uncle walked in the front door of our house. I knew immediately that it wasn't ok and that the moment I saw my dad on the lane was the last time I would ever see my dad.
Had my family been more aware of the signs of heart disease and a heart attack, I'd like to think that he'd still be with us today. He had teeth/jaw sensitivity, shoulder pain, shortness of breath, irritability, and chest pain the weeks leading up to it. He had gone to visit multiple doctors and even made a visit to the ER-- but, unfortunately, each doctor gave him a different reason for each symptom and sent him home. It is important to know the warning signs, live a healthy lifestyle, and remember to trust that if something feels wrong to you, it most likely is.
I walk in memory of my dad and pop-pop with the hope that the money raised can help find more ways to prevent, diagnose, and cure heart disease. Please participate in the walk to help spread awareness and donate to help the cause.