On this National Women’s Health Week, there are some grim realities facing Black women.
If you are unemployed and uninsured, you may not get the proper diagnostic testing that could save your life. That’s what has happened to one Prince George’s County, Maryland, woman.
For a year, Florence Champagne went back and forth to a local emergency room with symptoms that included shortness of breath, a stabbing pain in her chest, jaw pain and pain radiating down her arm. Doctors couldn’t find anything.
She was told on her last visit to the ER to seek psychiatric help.
“Then one day, I found myself on the floor gasping for air,” Champagne said.
Her doctor told her that she made it to the hospital just in time. Champagne received emergency treatment for a blockage in a main heart artery.
She survived her cardiac episode, but as she recovered, Champagne became angry.
She learned that the reason she hadn’t received the proper diagnostic testing was because, she was “unemployed and uninsured.”
Champagne’s anger turned into advocacy. She attended a training program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
She then founded the Open My Heart Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports African American women and women of color who suffer from heart disease.
The number one complaint Champagne said she hears from women who have had a cardiac event is: “He didn’t listen to me. My doctor didn’t listen to me.”
She recommends that women become better advocates for themselves and need to know the right buzzwords to use. For example, she suggests using the word “heart” and asking the question, “Could this be heart related?”
“They treat you differently when they think you’re having a heart attack,” Champagne said.
Champagne said, when looking back at her situation, “God gave me purpose to my pain.”
She is a Prince George’s County resident. To find out more about Champagne’s organization, go to http://openmyheartfoundation.org. You can visit at 1400 Doewood Lane, Capitol Heights, Maryland, or call 240-389-4361.
National Women’s Health Week is led by the U.S. Department of Health Services Office on Women’s Health and is observed May 9 through May 15.