Go Red for Women: mom's battle highlights need for awareness - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Go Red for Women: mom's battle highlights need for awareness

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

After having four kids and 8 months pregnant with her fifth child, Bridget Perez has undergone 4 months of pre-operative chemotherapy and a double mastectomy in her battle against breast cancer.

"I was scared," Perez said about the process.

The disturbing irony for Perez was that the drugs used to fight the cancer were taking a toll on her heart.

"The treatment she received for breast cancer caused some damage to her heart," Dr. Guilherme Oliveira, Onco-Cardiologist at University Hospitals, said about Perez's situation.

Oliveira said chemo, Herceptin and radiation, all treatments for cancer, take a toll on the heart. The drugs cause heart dysfunction in 40 percent of cancer patients who get the treatments.

"When I thought of heart disease I thought of a little old man who might have a heart attack," Perez said. "I didn't think of the young mom busy taking care of her family."

In fact, heart disease is the number 1 killer in women and affects more women than all forms of cancer combined.  Dr. Oliveira told 19 Action News that 1 in 3 women will get heart disease in their lifetime. These statistics are what fuel the "Go Red for Women" movement.  Go Red for Women is a movement by the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart disease.

Dr. Oliveira added there is no time like the present to be proactive with exercise and a healthy diet. As for Perez she is currently taking medicines to keep her heart strong despite the cancer drugs.

Perez is now cancer free.

"Look to the future (I) want to have a long life to be there for my kids and my family," Perez added.  "So I could be the person God created me to be."

University Hospitals Dr. Oliveira says 1 in 3 women will get heart disease in their lifetime and that there's no time like the present to be proactive with exercise and a healthy diet.

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.

 

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