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Nancy Tomlinson, Heart Patient

"All we ever hear about as women is cancer, cancer, cancer."

Nancy had spent more than three decades working in a hospital – including several years in incoronary care – and 40 years helping her husband work through his own heart ailments. So heart disease wasn't supposed to catch her by surprise.

Instead, other health scares were higher on her radar. "All we ever hear about as women is cancer, cancer, cancer," Nancy says. "I never gave heart disease another thought."

But over the course of several months, Nancy began to notice that something wasn't quite right. Back pain and fatigue became a chronic problem. And when her grown children expressed concerns about Nancy's pale complexion, she brushed it off as a side effect from recently losing 50 pounds.

During a family gathering this spring, Nancy experienced a strange pain in her throat and a racing pulse. At first, she simply attributed it to just a case of indigestion. But as the pain persisted, Nancy's self-diagnosis was overruled by her concerned family. Her daughter insisted on driving her straight to the Saint Agnes Medical Center Emergency Department. Once there, multiple tests confirmed damage to Nancy's left coronary artery, where there was a 99 percent blockage. She immediately underwent open heart surgery.

Now fully recovered, Nancy is counting her blessings, knowing things could have turned out very differently that day. "Had I been home, I would have lain down and that would have been it," Nancy says. "All the time, I never thought it was my heart."

Nancy is also determined to share with other women the lesson she nearly missed. "Pay attention to your body. If you're not feeling right, there's usually a good reason."

For more information about Saint Agnes Heart & Vascular Services, click here.

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Saint Agnes Medical Center | 1303 E. Herndon Ave. Fresno, CA 93720 | 559-450-3000