WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Heart conditions don’t just affect the people dealing with them, they can also affect family members and loved ones and they can often jump-start life changes, helping others improve their overall health.
Janet Cervantes-Hageman tragically lost her husband of 22 years to a stroke in 2012.
In the days and years since then, she and her family have worked to help others benefit with what they learned through that awful event, which included some life changes for Janet herself.
“We all think we’re invincible, we feel ok, and we can keep going so we do,” says Janet.
She says looking back her husband Mike likely ignored the signs that indicated there were health issues. Signs like high blood pressure and high glucose levels.
“I think there are signs we overlook. A lot of people get up in the morning and they don’t feel the best but it’s like uh, ya gotta keep going,” Janet explains.
At the time unaware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke, Janet and her family now work to help others remember the symptoms by using the acronym F.A.S.T. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke.
“We did feel like he probably had all the signs that no one saw that we didn’t see,” Janet says. “So we set up the Mike Cervantes Stroke Awareness Foundation.”
But even that wasn’t quite enough.
They also started the F.A.S.T. 5K that’s now associated with the American Heart Association’s Wichita Heart Walk.
“So we did two on our own and we’ve done two with the American Heart Association. This will be our third. All the money goes to the American Heart Association.”
Mike’s death even led to some life and health changes for Janet.
She’s one of five women in the U.S. chosen for the Live Longer and Stronger challenge put on by Woman’s Day.
Since July 21, she’s lost 66 pounds and is looking forward to attending the Red Dress Awards in February in New York City.
“My goal is to be down 80 pounds by then. I’m pretty sure I’ll make it,” laughs Janet.
Janet says now she knows her numbers, she enjoys eating a healthier diet and she makes it a point to put her health first.
“We’ve tried to make as many positive things happen as we could from our tragedy. That heartbreak is something we don’t want anyone else to have to go through.”