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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Executive Producer, Eileen Mitchard, Inspires Heart Disease Awareness

It always amazes us (all the ladies working on our Stitch Red campaign) how many people have been affected by this silent killer - heart disease. We were introduced to Eileen Mitchard (Executive Producer of "Breast in Show") through Laura and her story took us by surprise. Training for the Marine Corps Marathon, Eileen learned that her main artery was severely blocked. She may never have known had she not listened to the advice of marathon books and her trainers. Many of us are familiar with this common caution: please check with your physician before engaging in strenuous activity. Luckily, Eileen did just that and we are glad she is doing well!

A scene from "Breast in Show"
How did you hear about the Stitch Red campaign?

I attended Vogue Knitting Live in NY in January 2012. Also, I saw an article in Vogue Knitting Magazine and I am a student of Tanis Gray who is one of the designers who contributed to Knit Red.

What does the Stitch Red campaign/ fighting heart disease mean to you?

It certainly means much more to me now that I am a "scar carrying member." 

Marine Corps Marathon!
In honor of my upcoming 60th birthday I decided to tackle one of the items on my bucket list - to run/jog/walk/crawl the Marine Corps Marathon. I had two trainers - one for running and one for strength and I had been training and reading lots of books for eight weeks - all of which encouraged me to get a physical. My physical led to a stress test, which then led to a catheterization where I discovered that my main artery was 95% blocked. On February 17, 2012 I had open heart bypass surgery. In men they call this the "widow maker", so I am lucky to be alive. 

Given that one in three women will develop heart disease it seems to be a natural fit for knitters and women to engage in this campaign. We, as women, need to take care of ourselves or we can't take care of anyone else. We need to really pay attention to the subtle symptoms: being tired, breathlessness climbing stairs, and general ennui after a period of weeks of exercising. I am so impressed with all of the yarn companies and designers who have contributed to this effort to bring heart disease facts to other knitters and women nationwide.

What's a heart healthy tip and/or recipe you would like to share?

A great breakfast is 1/2 cup Fibre One cereal, Chobani plain non-fat yogurt and a handful of blueberries. This meal is rich in protein, provides one serving of fruit and plenty of fiber to keep you full and able to work all morning. 

What gets your heart racing?

Of course, knitting is one of my passions. It has seen me through many of life's stages, including the birth of my first child (that is when I learned to knit a hooded, zip up the back baby sweater!), the birth of my second child, transitioning from working outside the home to more entrepreneurial endeavors, my divorce, a second chance at love, children growing up, the empty nest, and now grandchildren. 

"Chemo Cafe"
I am the Executive Producer for the new original musical about breast cancer entitled "Breast in Show", which just premiered in October 2011. This 90 minute live stage musical takes the audience on the roller coaster of the disease- funny, touching, but leaves audiences feeling hopeful that our generation will end this scourge. This show is what gets my heart racing. The 12 original songs are written by a nationally known woman composer, Joan Cushing, and are well-known for touching people in an amazing way.  Written by another woman who has off-Broadway credits to her name, Lisa Hayes, and directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer. The fact that four women came together to create something that had not been done before, something that will change the world is exceptionally powerful. I couldn't be more proud of this show!

We couldn't be more appreciative of Eileen for sharing such a personal story. Eileen, and all of us at Jimmy Beans Wool, hope that her story encourages you to get screened for heart disease. It's never too early or too late to start preventing the risks!

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