Cathy Lynch of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, had a history of genetic, coronary artery disease. In the past 10 years, she had 19 coronary artery stent procedures and a quadruple bypass that failed.
"I was told in August that I would not be able to have any more stents or surgeries done on my heart," she said. "So I was kind of desperate."
Because Lynch was a former California resident, she knew about Dr. Dean Ornish and did an online search about his programs.
"When I went online I read that there was a program here in West Virginia at CAMC," she said. "So I called about it."
After a chat with her husband and about a day of mulling it over, Lynch decided that she wanted to come here to participate in the program. There was only one problem: where she would stay?
"I checked some of the local hotels and the Medical Center Inn across from Memorial Hospital," she said. "I couldn't afford to stay at any of those places for three months, so I emailed Kelly [Anderson, one of the program coordinators], and she sent out a message to past participants of the program."
Enter Laura Brown-Joliffe, who had also had a quadruple bypass and had previously completed the Ornish Reversal program.
"I had just moved from a larger home that was hard for me to take care of," said Brown-Joliffe. "Part of my personal Ornish journey was to decide how to make my life a little easier. My children were out of the home making their own lives. I thought I wanted a smaller place that I could manage economically and not have so much work to do. Then, this email popped up. I thought, 'Do I really want to do this now that I moved?' So at first I passed on it."
After thinking back to her time as a Sunday school teacher for adolescents and reflecting on a lesson about ethics in America, she decided she would do it.
"I asked myself if it was something I could do," she said. "And I could. So I did!"
So Brown-Joliffe invited Lynch to stay with her. The two women don't see much of each other with Lynch's weekly routine.
"It's been quite busy since I've been here," Lynch said. "I exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at HeartFit. I also come to CAMC every day and do the ECP (external counterpulsation) treatment. After I finish with that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I stay at the hospital and wait for the Ornish program to begin and am usually here until about 7:30."
"Cathy is such a quiet person," Brown- Joliffe said. "She just quietly goes on and is kind and does her business. It's been good while she's been here. It'll be funny when she leaves because I moved into that house and there was nobody there and now she'll move on. But that's life, we all move on. It's been easy. She's made it easy, and I hope I've made it easy for her."
Lynch says she feels better than she has in years because of her participation in the Ornish Reversal Program. She has more energy and her chest pain has decreased. Her medicines have been cut in half from 16 pills a day when she began the program to eight currently. She is very grateful for her time here in the program.
"It's been just wonderful, and without Laura, I wouldn't be here," she said. "She has helped to make me well."
For information about this, or any of the other Lifestyle and Prevention Programs offered at CAMC, call (304) 388-9411.