For Shirley Phillips, the idea of ending her cardiac rehabilitation at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute was bittersweet. She was excited about the progress she had made, and the opportunities that faced her, but at the same time was sad to be leaving a group of friends who had all gotten close in the class.
“It was a well-rounded program that is very encouraging,” said Shirley of the St. Luke’s cardiac rehabilitation program. “I had goals of getting back to doing what I wanted to do. There were times I thought I wouldn’t make it, but the therapists were good and started slow. I obtained all my goals through the program.”
Little did Shirley know when she started rehab, that she would also gain a group of lifelong friends. “We all went through cardiac rehab together, got close, and I didn’t want to let them go.” So, she came up with the idea for “Healing Hearts,” a women’s cardiac rehabilitation support group, starting with the five women who had gotten so close going through the program.
Now the group, or as many members as can attend, gets together once a month on the second Wednesday of each month at the IHOP restaurant on East Sprague, near Costco, to talk about family, life, notes on health suggestions – and to just “dish” together with others who truly understand what they have been through.
The women did not all have the same heart issue, some had open heart surgery or stints, others had valve replacements or heart attacks. What they have in common, however, is a new take on life after rehab and a commitment to one another.
“It is great to get out to talk, eat and share,” says Averal Miller, another “Healing Hearts” member. “Getting together, even if it is just two of us, is enough – we need it!”
The group continues to meet monthly and has even returned to St. Luke’s a couple of times, once for the patient holiday party, and again to visit with another cardiac rehab class. “We encouraged current patients, told them we understood and that they could make it,” said Shirley. “And, of course, other women are always welcome to join the group – any woman who was a cardiac rehabilitation patient.”
For the “Healing Hearts” group, it is about more than just healing their physical hearts. Through the lessons they learned at St. Luke’s, and the friendships they have formed, they have been able to heal the physical, while feeding their emotional hearts as well.