Mother’s heart attack inspires daughter to run

Shocked by her mother’s heart attack, Marlyn has signed on to be a Heart Racer in this year’s Round the Bays event. 

It didn’t look like the heart attacks she’d seen in Hollywood movies.

Marlyn Pinon was walking to the mall with her mother Leonida during a trip to Pasig, Philippines late last year, when the older woman began experiencing shortness of breath.

Marlyn was concerned and suggested visiting the hospital. But Leonida, 75, thought she just needed to stop for a rest.

It took two days before Leonida saw a specialist at the hospital, and it was confirmed she’d had a major heart attack. Tests revealed several blockages in her arteries, and she was soon booked in for life-saving open-heart surgery.

“I was really emotional and shocked,” says Marlyn. “I couldn’t believe it at first. The indications were a bit misleading, because her case was different to what I have seen on TV or read in the news.”

Prior to having shortness of breath, Leonida had experienced swollen feet – but they put this symptom down to having been on a long flight from New Zealand, where Leonida has lived since 2013.

Shaken by her mother’s heart attack, Marlyn has signed on to be a Heart Racer in this year’s Round the Bays event in Auckland.

“I want to raise money for the Heart Foundation, I want to help them fight against heart disease and I want to make a difference,” she says.

“My mother’s heart attack affected us so much, emotionally and mentally. I don’t even think of the financial cost involved in it, to be honest, though I am not rich. All I want is to save my mother and extend her life. Money can be earned as long as you’re healthy and able to work, but we only have one life, and it cannot be replaced at all.”

Marlyn’s father also had heart disease as well as diabetes, and died 18 years ago from complications related to these health problems.

“He was taken from us at a young age of 58 years old,” says Marlyn, who is one of three children. “And we don’t want it to happen to our mother. If it is running in their blood, or our blood, there are so many options to avoid, stop or control it. And that’s what we have started to do now.”

As well as living a healthy lifestyle, Marlyn now has regular blood tests to check on her heart health.

“My siblings and I are at high risk, because both our parents had heart disease. I have no children, but have nieces and nephews, and they are all grown up and aware that we’re at high risk of getting the disease.”

Marlyn hopes that by running as a Heart Racer, she can raise funds for vital heart disease research, rehabilitation programmes and health promotion campaigns.