ABWW Heroine of The Day: Laura Marshall

By IVY FARGUHESON June 28, 2010
After years of education, Laura Marshall knew all the signs.

The shortness of breath. The tightening of her chest. The pain running down her left arm, eventually moving up to her jaw and down her shoulder blade.

Any textbook would inform her she was having a heart attack. She just didn’t want to believe it. But it was true. She was having a heart attack at 33-years-old.

“I was too afraid to believe I was having a heart attack,” Marshall said. “After three days of the pain, I went into the hospital and the doctor told me what I already knew. And I was afraid I was going to die.”

After her heart attack, which lead to a failed angioplasty and a successful open heart surgery, Marshall decided to increase her fitness regimen. Although she was already a healthy person, she knew she had to make some changes to her lifestyle to insure she never went through this experience again.

She decided to increase her walking exercise routine, trying to make it a four to five time a week habit instead of “whenever I could find time.”

She’s also made it her mission to speak to everyone, especially black women, about the importance of paying attention to your body and becoming fit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 38 percent of non-Hispanic black women, such as Marshall, are obese, one of the highest rates among any population in the United States. Obesity is a leading cause of heart disease and heart attacks.

Marshall was living in Atlanta when she had the heart attack and felt what she believed to be a classic case of women, especially black women, ignoring the signs of any medical trauma.

Often thinking the “discomfort is something silly or no big deal,” these women let the pain linger more then necessary instead of treating themselves to medical care as soon as possible.

There’s also the issue of black women raising 62 percent of black families in America on their own. These single mothers are understandably focused on taking care of their children’s health before their own.

We have to start taking care of ourselves because if we are not well our children will not be well!

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