Go Red luncheon set for next week

February 14, 2019

Claudette Kenmir, 57, previously led a stress-filled life and worked six days a week.

Twelve years ago, that came to a screeching halt when she suffered a stroke. Kenmir slowly recovered, a factor she attributes to being a healthy and active 45-year-old before the stroke. But since 2006, she has cut back on work, kept balance with leisure time, eaten healthier and regularly exercised.

Today, the Spokane insurance company vice president often talks to women about taking better care of themselves and watching for symptoms. Kenmir knows she ignored signs in 2006, such as headaches and a family history of high cholesterol and blood pressure. When the stroke hit, she lost mobility on her right side.

“I had one of my sisters staying with me,” Kenmir said. “That morning when I was going to see the neurologist, I got in the shower and I felt really weird. I couldn’t walk down the stairs and had to slide down on my butt because my right side wasn’t working. My sister put me in the car.”

Her neurologist’s medical building is next to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, and that doctor immediately got Kenmir into the hospital.

“I think the key to stroke is knowing what the symptoms are, and time is a huge factor in helping stop the progression, because if you can get to the hospital in a timely manner, there is a drug they can administer, but they only have a certain window.”

The drug helps mitigate some stroke symptoms and prevent long-term disabilities, she said.

On Wednesday, Kenmir will serve an ambassador at Spokane’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, scheduled at the Spokane Convention Center.

People who attend can add touches of red to their outfit. Go Red is held each year to bring awareness and raise funds for the fight against the No. 1 threat to women’s health – heart disease and stroke.

The event includes a health and wellness expo, a silent auction and luncheon program with a keynote talk by Dr. M. Cristy Smith, a cardiologist with Providence Spokane Heart Institute. Dr. Smith will provide insight into the role of stress on cardiovascular health, particularly in women, and the importance of reducing stress.

Kenmir said today she feels only minor effects from the stroke, such as some issues with balance and energy. Although Kenmir got to the hospital too late to get the shot, she improved with rehabilitation and support from her mother, a retired neurology nurse who stayed with her during recovery.

“I’m very lucky,” she said. “I had a great support system.”

She recalls that hospital caregivers told her they were seeing more and more younger women as stroke patients because of stress, sedentary lifestyles and heredity factors.

“What I try to tell people is know what your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are. I know it’s really hard, but get out and exercise. That makes a huge difference and it also helps to know your family history. I found out after my stroke that both of my parents had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but I never paid attention before.”

Kenmir now regularly walks, rides a stationary bike, skis every weekend in the winter and goes on bike rides regularly in the summer with her husband. She tries to work only five days a week.

“The thing that is still shocking to me is that heart disease and stroke continue to be women’s greatest health concerns,” she said “One in 3 women will die from this disease, so a third of our moms, sisters, girlfriends. That’s a really high percentage and so much of this we can control.

“I’m never going to tell anybody it’s easy, but you have control over what you eat to a certain degree, over taking time to exercise and taking care of yourself.”

The American Heart Association said cardiovascular diseases, which include stroke, claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds.

To purchase a seat at the 2019 Spokane Go Red for Women Luncheon, visit SpokaneGoRedLuncheon.heart.org. The Go Red for Women is presented nationally by CVS Health and locally by Providence Health Care.