Luncheon serves a full house

HOPE volunteers Sue Williams and Karen Wofford garnish the plates, before dishing up the chicken cordon bleu, for Wednesday’s Cherokee Care Collaboration “To Your Health” luncheon. Progress photo by Cristin Ross HOPE volunteers Sue Williams and Karen Wofford garnish the plates, before dishing up the chicken cordon bleu, for Wednesday’s Cherokee Care Collaboration “To Your Health” luncheon.

By Cristin Ross

If a person lives to be 80 years old, that person’s heart will have beaten at least 8 billion times.

“And if it missed just one, you’d definitely know about it,” local cardiologist Dr. Wayne Cooper told the 100 people who’d reserved seats at Wednesday’s To Your Health luncheon. “What else can you think of that works so perfectly?”

The meal and program, sponsored by the Cherokee Care Collaboration, was held at the Norman Activity Center in Jacksonville.

“I’m very interested in preventing heart disease,” Mary Richardson said.

Her husband, Jimmy, added, “We’ve been married 55 years. I guess she figures I need to be taken care of.”

Jacksonville resident Carolyn Herr also is interested in learning more about heart disease.

“I came to be motivated,” she admitted. “With all the (health) problems I have, I wanted to get inspired.”

The luncheon is part of the collaboration’s Partners in Health program, which focuses on helping the community improve its quality of life through education about health and safety issues.

“I’ve been to all these meetings,” HOPE volunteer Imogene Adams said. “They always have good food and good programs.”

The program has been sponsoring luncheons every other month for two years at the Soup Kitchen, thanks to a grant from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

“I’m very pleased with the interest in today’s program,” HOPE Director Fran Daniel said. “We had reservations made for every spot we had.”

Cooper revealed a few surprising things about cardiovascular disease as his audience munched a heart-healthy meal prepared and presented by HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Enrichment) chef Chris Jordan and volunteers.

“We are all born with cardiovascular disease,” he said. “The paradox of the three kinds of heart disease — excluding congenital heart disease — is that all three are completely preventable, treatable and curable. There is no reason for cardiovascular disease to be the number one cause of death in this country, in both men and women. But it is.

“With the advancements of modern medicine, especially in the last 20 years, with the advancements of research, all three conditions of heart disease are 99 percent-plus treatable,” he said.

To answer the question why cardiovascular disease is still the nation’s largest killer, Cooper referenced the book, “On Death and Dying,” by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

“The stages of heart disease are very similar to the stages of grief,” Cooper said. “Stage 1 is denial. Both genders are very good at denial. They deny they need to manage stress or get checked.

“Stage 2 is anger. It’s very common, especially among men, for a patient to get angry as it sinks in that they have some form of cardiovascular disease.

“Stage 3 is negotiation. We are all very good negotiators. Trying to strike a deal is in our nature. But trying to strike a deal with Nature won’t work.

“Stage 3 is depression. After a diagnosis, a lot of people get very fatalistic — it was in their fate or it was God’s will they get cardiovascular disease.

“And finally, Stage 5, acceptance. Once you accept what’s happening and decide to make changes to help treat and cure the problems, there’s no reason today for people to die of heart disease,” Cooper said.

The next luncheon’s date and topic will be announced soon. The collaboration is also open to suggestions for future topics or venues. Call HOPE, 903-586-7781, to share ideas.