One by one, Sandra Phaup counted off plausible explanations for the symptoms she was experiencing.
She told herself they were the result of age, fatigue, hormonal changes, indigestion, and perhaps the fact that she might have put on a few pounds over the years.
As it turned out, the symptoms added up to heart disease, and the Providence Red Dress Campaign did the math for her.
After seeing ads on television for the Red Dress Campaign, Sandra ultimately underwent a series of tests that revealed a 95 percent blockage in one of the arteries in her heart. After receiving two life-saving stents to help open the vascular blockage, she was given a clean bill of health.
She's convinced that if it hadn't been for the Red Dress Campaign messages on TV, she might not be here today.
"At first I paid little attention – I didn't feel the ads were targeting me," says Sandra, referring to the campaign Providence Heart Institute developed to alert women to the danger they face from heart disease.
"But pretty quickly, I noticed there were at least two of the symptoms emphasized in the TV ad that matched what was going on with me, then three, then on down the list." She called her family doctor, and before long she was undergoing the battery of tests that would reveal her heart disease.
What a difference a year makes.
One year Sandra was watching the Red Dress Campaign on TV, and the next year she was an integral part of it.
When extended an invitation, she readily agreed to become a Red Dress Ambassador, joining more than 500 other South Carolina women who help spread the word that heart disease is a woman's greatest health threat.
Knowing the danger heart disease poses to their health, Red Dress Ambassadors like Sandra help dispel the myths that have long kept women from knowing, understanding, or recognizing factors that could result in a cardiac event that could drastically alter – or even end – their lives. Being part of the show of feminine force at the Red Dress Rally in February at the State House – more than 200 women, all of them dressed in red – reaffirmed Sandra's confidence that knowledge really is power.
That day she found herself surrounded by a number of women who had learned, as she had, what to watch for and when to stop watching and take action.
Being back in red makes Sandra happy.
"I used to love wearing red, but then as I matured I seemed to steer away from it," she says. "But now red is back on my palette again. I often use it in painting flowers, and I use it in my wardrobe as an accent for soft pastels or neutral colors."