Marianne Fedunkiw's Story
"With each week in the cardiac gym, I regained strength, stamina and confidence in my body with the goal of living a full life."
Marianne Fedunkiw recently graduated from Women’s College Hospital's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, the first and only heart health program in Canada exclusively designed for women. Here, Marianne shares her experiences in the program and the impact it’s had on her life – an impact made possible by the generosity of our extraordinary donor community.
I recently completed my second six month ‘term’ in WCH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Although I was saddened to bid goodbye to my workout friends and the staff, I look forward to a healthier future using tools I’ve learned from the rehab team.
It is bewildering and frightening to go from playing ice hockey and tennis to facing serious cardiovascular issues. No risk factors. No poor lifestyle choices. And chest pain only a few times a year. The only potential explanation is genetics: my maternal grandmother, my Baba, died in 1960 at 56, having suffered strokes and a heart attack.
Between ages 34 and 51, I had racked up my own disturbing tally of events: four strokes and one quadruple bypass. I felt like Humpty Dumpty being pushed off the wall again and again. With each setback, I was gutted. But the rehab team were there to help me pick up the pieces, patch me up, and encourage me to get back up on that wall.
The program reaffirmed that regular exercise was not only safe but also a way to protect myself against potential future health ‘surprises’; it also provided me with a community of supportive and inspiring women. With each week in the cardiac gym, I regained strength, stamina and confidence in my body with the goal of living a full life.
I was fortunate to benefit from Canada’s oldest women-only cardiac rehab program. I can never adequately express my gratitude to Drs. Jennifer Price and Len Sternberg for having the foresight to set up this program more than 20 years ago. The staff – Debbie Childerhose, Faith Delos-Reyes, Miriam Fong and Mireille Landry – are first-rate professionals, always patient with my queries about physiology and developments in cutting-edge cardiac care.
Doctors still cannot explain what’s wrong with me. But I celebrate what is working well and am coming to terms with being an interesting medical mystery.
I never got to meet my Baba. She died five years before I was born. Surgeons were not yet performing cardiac bypasses and the benefits of cardiac rehab programs were not yet fully understood.
I owe my life to advancements in medical research. I owe my quality of life to WCH’s cardiac rehab program. Thank you from every functioning chamber of my Humpty Dumpty heart!
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