LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - In the 1990's Kim Cockrell was a Hollywood actress. She appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, "She Says She's Innocent," as well as in PC games. She also worked on "The Bad Girls Club" on KLSX Real Radio in Los Angeles.
Now she's 46, and Kim took a hard right turn out of the acting world to pursue her passion. She's now working as a Mother's Against Drunk Driving victim's advocate.
"I've gone from South Carolina, to New York, to Japan, L.A. all the way back, and now I came back home and I've got a job that I've always wanted since 1993, and I've got an amazing family, and everything just kind of came full circle," says Cockrell.
She describes being a victim's advocate as "her dream job." It's personal to her. Her best friend was killed by a drunk driver back in 1993, and she has worked to advocate for victims ever since.
But, three weeks into her new career, the unexpected struck.
"When they come in and say the words, you've had a heart attack...I immediately have no idea what's going to happen next," Cockrell said.
It was 7 a.m. on Valentine's Day this year. Cockrell remembers getting up to a dull, aching feeling in her chest, that began to shift over her heart, and then she began to have trouble breathing. Her symptoms were odd, and it took a little while for her to realize what was happening to her. But, she says the realization saved her life.
"The one thing that hit me at that point is there's a Lexington Medical Center commercial, and there's a man in the background and he's talking to this woman and she starts having every symptom I at that point started having. And he says to her, 'you didn't pay attention to me, so I took your breath,' and that's when I realized what was happening to me," Cockerell says.
Friends rushed her to Lexington Medical Center, where doctors confirmed she was having a heart attack.
"She came in early. And she came in early enough to get intervened upon and have medical therapy initiated so she didn't have a catastrophe, she didn't have a tragedy," says Dr. Robert Malanuk, Cockrell's cardiologist at Lexington Medical Center.
Dr. Malanuk says Cockerell showed subtle signs of a heart attack - like fatigue, dizziness and excessive sweating, which many women don't know to look for. Now she is making it her mission to let everyone know the signs.
"I have stopped complete strangers in the market, I have stopped them on the street, people I have talked with on the phone, women - complete strangers, I keep saying to them, do you know what the symptoms of a heart attack are?"
Cockrell credits that one commercial for saving her life. Now, she's making it her mission to extend the message.
"I thought about my son, and my husband, and my Mom and my Dad… and I realized that I've got to be one of the luckiest people in the world," she says.
Cockrell will be sharing her story at the Heart and Sole Women's Five Miler on April 23rd, where she will be speaking before the race begins. Click here for more information or to register.