Nearly four years ago Jade Cooke, aged just 32, received a diagnosis that would rock her world and change life as she knew it: Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Here, Jade shares her story and explains why British Heart Foundation’s partnership with Omaze is so vital.
In 2019, Jade, a seemingly fit and healthy young woman with a passion for yoga, started to exhibit symptoms unusual for her active lifestyle—breathlessness, fatigue and heart palpitations—following a particularly nasty virus that had left her bedbound. After three GP visits, doctors remained unconcerned by Jade’s symptoms. But when mum, Tracey, pushed Jade to have an X-ray, the results were more serious than anyone could have imagined.
After the X-ray uncovered Jade’s enlarged heart, an echocardiogram (ECG) and a team of consultants would ultimately unearth the life-threatening condition. After more tests, results showed Jade’s heart was pumping at just 11%, compared to the 50-75% expected.
Jade said: “It was a lot to take in. I was told it was rare, especially at my age, and I was put on a course of medication and told I’d need to be regularly monitored. I was in complete shock. It took me a few months to realise exactly what DCM was, and how serious it is".
The beta blockers Jade was prescribed caused a build up of fluid in her body. She lost a drastic amount of weight. And having initially cut down her hours at work, Jade inevitably had to be signed off altogether for two months.
Alongside the heart failure nurse, who was assigned to monitor Jade’s blood pressure and medication every two weeks, she also attended bi-weekly hospital appointments. But that was about all Jade could manage—unable to do much else, Jade’s mental health was severely impacted.
She said, “I’m a strong, positive person and I’m usually very independent. But my Mum was having to do a lot and stay with me. My life had completely changed and I don’t know how I coped to be honest. I remained as positive as I could, but I kept asking myself if life was ever going to be the same again, if I’d ever be able to do yoga again.”
After being assessed by a cardiologist at Sheffield Hospital, Jade was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) in September 2019, but this surgery was not without its complications. For six weeks, Jade’s family had to do everything for her and she found herself “at the lowest point, grieving for the person I had been. I just wanted my old life back.”
However, slowly but surely, after a further ablation treatment, Jade was able to regain some normality and use gentle yoga movements, with the consent of her doctors.
Now, with partner Andrew on-hand to offer support, Jade is responding well to the three medications she is on with her heart now pumping at 32%. And although a heart transplant has been considered, Jade is keen to see if the amazing progress she’s made so far will eliminate that need.
With consultants in awe of the headway Jade has made so far, she attributed a great deal of that to yoga, saying she doesn’t know precisely why, “but it does reduce stress and anxiety and keep my mind and body in balance. It also makes me feel like I’m more in control.”
Jade has since gone on to qualify as a yoga teacher and plans to create yoga courses aimed at people living with heart disease.
She also says, “I never thought someone of my age and fitness level could have a heart condition, but the truth is heart disease can affect anyone at any time. It can feel really scary but help is out there. You will get better. And you will come out the other side.”
Jade credits her survival, in large part, to the tireless work of British Heart Foundation. She says “Without the research British Heart Foundation funds into treatments of heart conditions like mine, I might not be here today. The charity has been a lifeline and the support and information they provide, through their website and online communities, is a huge help to families at a very scary time.”
She goes on to say, "The work British Heart Foundation does is truly lifesaving, and that’s why I’m backing its latest partnership with Omaze. The campaign will not only raise significant funds, but also widespread awareness for British Heart Foundation and the issues surrounding heart disease. I’m absolutely thrilled they’ve teamed up again.”
For your chance to help raise vital funds for British Heart Foundation, enabling them to continue the research that has and continues to save the lives of Jade and thousands just like her, enter the London House Draw - you could win a £3,000,000 town house in the heart of London and £100,000 cash to help you settle in.
So do something omazing and enter now.