Directly from my brain and onto the internet.
against cardiomyopathy
Published on April 18, 2005 By PJ_ In Health & Medicine
I sent out this email to some girls from West Chester I met in Maryland last week. I took the time to type out the story, so I thought I'd include it here on the off chance that someone actually reads this some day.:

Hey, West Chester facebook buddies,

Last weekend when we were hanging out in your room at Alpha Beta Matt mentioned Karen's Walk, which is Delta Alpha's signature service event of the spring. I don't think any of you had heard of it, so here's a pointer to our little website about it. --> (the cute little tyke in the middle of that picture at the top is Hannah, Karen's daughter).

Anyway, the main point of this email is that we had the brother who started Karen's Walk come in to one of our business meetings and tell us the story behind it. And because the story brought a single manly tear to my eye, I thought I'd share it.

It was about five weeks after Hannah was born. Karen was feeling kind of sick, like she had the flu. Not the coughing part, but the general run down, sore muscles, shitty feeling you get when you’re sick. Of course, she's busy with being a new mom with a five-week-old daughter, so she doesn't want to take time out to go to the doctor. She was feeling sick for about four days before her family finally made her go to the doctor.

The day that she was supposed to go to the doctor she was so weak that she couldn't dress herself. Her sister helped her get dressed and drove her to the doctor's office. When she got there her arms were feeling really sore. That was from the lack of blood circulating to them. The doctor tried pricking her finger to get some blood, but he couldn't because there just wasn't enough blood in it. Her blood pressure was so low at that point that her fingers couldn't even bleed.

Her doctor's office was right down the street from the hospital, and they brought her there in an ambulance. On the way over to the hospital she coded. That's medical talk meaning her heart stopped beating. But they got it started again and she got to the hospital. From there, they wanted to bring by medevac helicopter her to Albany Medical Center, which has an excellent cardiac unit. They also had a heart on the way there, so they could do a transplant. But there was a snow storm, so the helicopter wasn't an option. They went as fast as they could in an ambulance, but it wasn't fast enough. Karen didn't make it to Albany.

I don't know much about the biology of it. Something about her heart got bigger when she was carrying Hannah, because she had to have enough blood for two, but it didn't go back to normal after she was born. I don't know. Karen died of postpartum cardiomyopathy, and Colleen, our brother who's now an alumna, couldn't stop thinking about Hannah, who would grow up without a mom. She worked with the chapter and that year they held the Walk For Hannah, where they raised money to start a college fund for the Karen's little girl. The money went into a mutual fund, and I think Colleen said it was around $4500 now. Hannah's three years old, so by the time she needs it for school she should have a good chunk. She still has people sending her money from time to time, so she should be set in that department. Except for the fact that she doesn't have a mom, which is something I can't even imagine.

Since then we've been doing the walk every year. It's called Karen's Walk now, and the money goes to the Karen Decker Cardiomyopathy Fund, which funds research going on at the University of Rochester. I don't know much about the research. There are links to information about it on the site if terms like "angiogenesis" turn you on. All I know is I couldn't imagine what life would be like without my mom. I want to do anything I can to stop diseases that take moms away from their children. So I'm going to donate money to the Karen Decker Cardiomyopathy Fund, and hope that someone who knows what angiogenesis is can use it to figure out how to stop this from happening to someone else's mom.

If you guys know of anyone in your chapter who would want to donate money to this, they can send it to

Karen Decker Cardiomyopathy Fund
c/o Eric Majewicz
766 Kimball Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623

Or, if they have a paypal account, then can send money to

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Even if you don't send money, I think just getting the word out is important. I just feel so sad for Karen's family, and I think that the more people who are thinking about them, praying for them, the better.

Anyway, that's how I feel.

(Or you could call me Frank.)

Just a note: if someone actually is reading this and wants to send money, and it's after May of 2005, I wouldn't use the information above to figure out where to send it. Go to the site and see what it says currently, because the person it's in c/o is graduating this year.

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