Eve Walker’s story is a cautionary tale about keeping family health secrets.
True
Cigna 2017

When Eve Walker was 12, she lost her sister Louise to a devastating tragedy.

Eve looked up to 16-year-old Louise. “She was so beautiful and so popular. But we fought like cats and dogs," Eve laughs. One night, Louise left the house to go to a party. Next thing Eve remembers, her parents were screaming.

“They rushed out the door,” she says. “When my parents came back, they told us that my sister had died.” Devastated, the Walkers grieved silently — never explaining to Eve what, exactly, had happened to Louise.


Flash-forward nearly 16 years to when Eve started having odd, unexplainable symptoms — tiredness, tingling — that left her feeling unsettled. Because her parents had never explained the cause of Louise's death, it didn't occur to Eve that her symptoms might be related.

All photos courtesy of Eve Walker.

As her symptoms continued to increase, Eve thought them odd but not enough to be concerned. She ignored them — until she couldn't.

It started with having a hard time climbing stairs and inclines. Her breath became labored even though she was perfectly fit. She felt strange and fatigued.

One day, her legs seemed to stop working. “I could barely pick them up. They felt like steel,” she says.

Her symptoms persisted, and Eve persisted in ignoring them.

Then one night it all came together. “I felt like something bit me on my leg,” she says. “It was a pain that shot up my leg and my arm and I remember feeling it in my face and my jaw.” That’s when all of her symptoms — the shortness of breath, the heaviness in her limbs, the tingling pain in her body — suddenly clicked.

She called a neighbor and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Luckily, Eve made it to the hospital in time to get help — and to learn what had been causing her strange symptoms for so long.

“They told me I’d had a heart attack, and they told me I had heart disease,” Eve says. She learned that she had been living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes the heart muscle abnormally thick and makes it difficult for the body to pump blood.

She started on medication, became more careful with her diet, avoided placing a strain on her body with rigorous exercise, and committed to keeping the doctor’s appointments necessary to making sure she wasn’t in danger of a cardiac event. Ultimately, she had a defibrillator put in that would restart her heart automatically should anything happen.

It was around that time that a doctor also had her finally look into her family history.

“It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I learned my sister died of heart disease,” Eve says.

Had she known all along what had happened to Louise, Eve might have been able to get checked for her own symptoms earlier and avoided the narrow miss of her heart attack entirely. As it stands, she’s lucky to be here today.

Though she wishes she’d known about her family’s secret, Eve understands why her parents didn’t share it. “I didn’t blame them,” she says. “I mean, they lost a child. Maybe it was just too painful to talk about. Maybe they didn’t have the right words.”

Now, Eve dedicates her time to making sure others know the dangers of not looking into your family’s past.

She’s a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association's “Go Red for Women” initiative, which is working to help end heart disease and strokes among women. And she’s already seen her work pay off firsthand.

“One of the women was with us as an advocate because her mother died of a heart attack,” Eve says. One evening, when the group found out that the woman herself had not been checked for her own heart health, Eve urged her to do so. “Sure enough, she had some sort of heart disease and needed to get on medication immediately.”

For many families and individuals, looking into potentially dangerous health history can be scary, so it's avoided. But Eve says it's better to just bite the bullet. Know your four health numbers — your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and Body Mass Index (BMI) — and get regular check-ups, especially if you're feeling strange. Don't put off seeing a doctor.

"You've got to face it to fix it," Eve says. "That's the bottom line!"

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


There are very few people who have had quite as memorable a life as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His adult life has played out in four acts, with each one arguably more consequential than the last.

And now Schwarzenegger wants to play a role in helping America, his adopted home, ensure that our 2020 election is safe, secure and available to everyone willing and able to vote.

Shortly after immigrating to America, Schwarzenegger rose up to become the most famous bodybuilder in history, turning what was largely a sideshow attraction into a legitimate sport. He then pivoted to an acting career, becoming Hollywood's highest paid star in a run that spanned three decades.


Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less