Meet sisters Shirley McMahon and Betty Condon. These two have a lot in common; both are active, hard-working women who enjoy their families, and because of family history, both are at risk of having a stroke.
When their father was 69 years old, he suffered a massive stroke while wintering in Arizona. “He never fully recovered from that stoke,” shares Shirley. Within a two-year span, their father passed away from what they believe was a heart attack. Even with their family history and knowing their increased risk for a stroke, both women needed a little prompting to have a stroke screen.
That is until last winter when Shirley ran into family friend, Dorothy Griffin. Dorothy is also the community health nurse with Trinity Healthy Living. Knowing the family’s history, Dorothy encouraged Shirley to take advantage of Trinity’s Heart and Stroke Check the following Monday. “Dorothy told me she was fairly sure they had openings, and my husband had also been after me to go get checked out. So I finally decided okay, I’ll do it.” stated Shirley.
The day before they were to get on a plane to Arizona, Shirley had the screening and because of what the sonographers saw, she was asked to wait to receive her results. The outcome from her stroke screen showed significant blockage in her carotid artery. Quickly an appointment was made for her to see Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Michael Willerth.
“At first I was convinced that I needed to go to Rochester to receive my care,” shares Shirley. “But several friends encouraged me to see Dr. Willerth and let him do the surgery. Everyone told me how good he was, and I am so glad I did. I’m glad I did it right here; I had great care and Dr. Willerth was wonderful.”
Fortunately Shirley had her surgery when she did. Afterwards she would learn that she had 90 percent blockage and Dr. Willerth described it as ‘loose’ when he removed the blockage; in other words, a stroke waiting to happen.
“When I heard about Shirley’s surgery and how close she was to possibly having a stroke, I started to goad Betty to also get checked,” recalls the sisters’ friend, Dorothy. The perfect opportunity to have a stroke screen presented itself in the month of May, as Trinity recognized Stroke Awareness Month by offering a greatly discounted Heart and Stroke check.
“I guess I was out of excuses,” admits Betty. “When Trinity offered extra incentives to employees to have the stroke screening, I decided, “Okay, I will do it.” While Betty didn’t have the extensive blockage as her sister who is nine years older, she was highly encouraged to follow-up with her provider and keep a close eye on her health.
Today the sisters have a much clearer understanding of their risk for a stroke and are trying to make changes such as cutting back on salt. Working in their favor is that these sisters continue to each work a job that keeps them active. Shirley helps her son out three days a week with cleaning the local hotel he owns and Betty is a departmental courier for the hospital. However, younger sister Betty admits with a teasing smile, “I wish she [Shirley] would just retire so I can too, but she just won’t quit.”
Learn more about Trinity Healthy Living's Heart & Stroke Checks.