Overcoming Adversity w/ Dr. Jennifer Arnold

Inspirational. Brilliant. Caring.

These are just a few words that come to mind when I think about Dr. Jennifer Arnold.

Dr. Arnold is currently the Medical Director of a state-of-the-art simulation center at Texas Children’s Hospital and is a practicing neonatologist at the largest NICU in the country.

She stands at just 3 feet 2 inches tall, and has a rare type of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia Type Strudwick. The inherited disorder caused her to have more than 30 surgeries when she was just a child.

Her size isn’t what makes her special. It’s her energy. She is filled with purposefulness to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

Most people know Dr. Arnold from TLC’s docu-drama, The Little Couple, which follows her and her husband’s personal and professional lives. The show is in its 7th season!

I am almost embarrassed to say that I had no idea who Dr. Arnold was up until a few nights ago. I was invited to emcee the Healthy Woman Gala by South Baldwin Regional Medical Center again this year, and Dr. Arnold was the guest speaker.

I am so glad that I was invited back this year. It was truly a treat.

The event is all about empowering women to make better choices about their health. There’s a health fair, and a special dinner, when the audience is treated to a guest speaker. In years past guest speakers have included: Abby Rike, winner of the Biggest Loser season 8, Elizabeth Smart, and Barbara Dooley, the wife of former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley.

These woman have such remarkable success stories –each one fought through seemingly insurmountable challenges. They didn’t just focus on the victories and brag about their accomplishments…rather they gave details…specific tutorials almost…on how anyone in their situation can rise up with grace.

What I took away from Dr. Arnold was her passion. This is a woman that I doubt has any regrets, or lets anyone tell her it’s impossible.

Dr. Arnold loves being a physician. She told me that she was inspired to go into the medical field by the neurologist that cared for her when she was just a little girl. Impressed by his compassion and determination –she set forth on the same path.

She talked about the uphill battle people with disabilities face, like the fact that only an estimated 0.2% of medical school graduates have disabilities. But her message to those who have odds stacked high against them –“You can do it! Just think big.”

T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. is an acronym:
T is for try. “You never know what you can accomplish in life unless you first try.”
H is for hope. “Nothing can be accomplished without the hope of accomplishment.”
I is for initiate. “What first step can you take today towards the goal you want to achieve.”
N is for no. “Never listen to the nos.”
K is for know. “Know your limitations.”
B is for believe.”Never stop believing.”
I is for improve. “Once you’ve achieve your goal in life, always continue to strive to improve.”
G is for go. “Identify one thing you are going to do and just go for it.”

It’s the formula, per se that Dr. Arnold says ushered her to the woman she is today…a woman many describe as: powerful, engaging, humble and a healer.

What mountains will you climb today?





Final Post: Is this really the end?

In the beginning of this course we were tasked with keeping a blog.  Immediately I thought…well that will be easy.  I’ve kept a journal since I was seven or eight years old.  Plus, I write stories for our newscasts everyday; blogging will be a piece of cake.

On the surface writing seems so easy.  I mean everyone has a story to tell right?  All you need is a beginning, middle and end — yeah,  if only it were that simple.

I picked a topic that was close to my heart, heart disease awareness in our communities.  My grandmother died when I was just a teenager.   That was nearly 20 years ago and I still see her face.

My mother, grandmother and I were like three in a pods.  Her death made me question. I can remember being furious, and asking, “why should a woman who volunteers in shelters, works as a full-time nurse, and serves as an activist in the community be subjected to so much pain?  I’m talking several heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and diabetes –you name it –if it was a condition related to heart-disease my grandmother had it.  Until it ultimately took its toll.  I would come to terms with her death in a year.  I’ve been a champion for heart disease awareness ever since.

I had the topic, I had the passion, I just needed to express my  experiences, thoughts, and feelings in words.

Perhaps one of the toughest lessons I learned this semester is that writing takes not only takes honesty, but time.   I would get lost in the details, and struggled with how to approach my topics of discussion.

I either write from emotion, or I switch into a non subjective role of a reporter.  Mirroring the two styles proved to be most difficult.   But I am not giving up.  The semester might be over but my mission is not. Going forward, I’ve got to find a way to make this blog more engaging, informative and empowering.

So why Princess Cupcake?  The moniker princess cupcake was given to me by a co worker.  I am sure it wasn’t an endearing term.  He probably thought I was some know it all kid.  I picked the name as my pseudonym, because I like to turn negatives into positives.

Just like the death of my beloved grand mommy.  I am trying so hard to stay positive.   This blog has been an outlet to spread awareness about heart disease and who it impacts.  The long term goal is to inspire change.

Article: 11 year old Stroke Survivor

Imagine going through like not knowing that at any second you were about to have a stroke.  Now image you are only 11 years old when it happens.

“I can remember that day too clearly, something I’d like to forget actually,” said Kasey Koller.

Kasey was in the fifth grade when she had a stroke.  She was picking up her teachers mail, when she got a nasty headache.  debilitated by the pain, Kasey fell to the floor unable to breathe.

“I just kept gasping for air and then I just remember waking up in a hospital room,”  Kasey explained.

Fear.  Disbelief.  Two words came to mind when Kasey’s mother, Tayna, recalled the phone call when she found out her daughter was in the hospital.

“I was very frightened and when I looked at my daughter, I felt helpless.  I couldn’t help her, I couldn’t do anything for her at that moment to make it better…I was just totally helpless,” said Tayna Koller.

The thought of her daughter having a stroke at such a young age just never crossed her mind. And like most tweens her age, Kasey couldn’t even fully understand what a stroke was.

“I thought like no, that couldn’t have happened to me, I don’t even know what it is. I had no clue.”

Doctors say strokes in children happen more often than people think.  10 out of every 100,000 children between the ages one and 18 have a stroke each year.  The number is even higher in newborns, at one per 4,000 births.

Children tend to have a different kind of stroke than adults. Most adults have a stroke because of a clogged blood vessel, but in children it’s typically the results of bleeding on the brain.

The reasons vary. The results are always the same: dead brain cells.  The entire right-side of Kasey’s body was paralyzed.

“Whenever I am shaking someone’s hand, or opening a door, my hand gets tight and I have to think about it and release my muscles.  It’s really frustrating but I get through it,” said Kasey.

Kasey now gets Botox, the trade name for botulinum toxin, injections every three months.  The popular cosmetic product, normally used for smoothing out wrinkles, also helps stroke victims improves their ability to use parts of their body that suffered any neurological damage.

Speedy treatment depends on a diagnoses.  So if your son or daughter complains of a sudden headache, has a loss of balance, slurred speech…all of these are warning signs and warrant a call to the doctor right away.

The stroke changed her life forever. She insists it was for the better, because she has a much greater appreciate for how precious life is.

“I don’t want sympathy from other people.   Life is a gift and so is your health. “

Don’t take it for granted.

Social Media Campaign: Fighting Heart Disease with Pintrest

The line of communication has definitely changed with the explosion of social media sites.  Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram or Pinterest, roughly 73% of online adults use a social use social media.  That is according to highlights of survey related to social networking by the Pew Research Center.

We flock to these sites for various reasons: to stay in touch with family and friends, professional networking, or as a source of inspiration.  But I’ve also seen how effective social media can be when it comes to campaigning for a cause, like heart disease.

Each year, the major cause of death for women is from heart disease.  February is National Heart Awareness month.  It’s a time to recognize the many milestones accomplished in the fight against heart disease, and also bring awareness to the steps we still need to take to truly make a dent in what remains to be Americas burden.

For the kick-off,  the American Heart Association (AHA) asks women across the nation to wear red on the first Friday of February.  The campaign has been around for as long as I can remember, but last year the AHA tried something new and incorporated Pinterest in its campaign.

By web definition, Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for different projects and interests.  People create and share collections (called “boards”) of visual bookmarks (called “Pins”) that they use to do things like plan trips and projects, organize events or save articles and recipes.

Macy’s Go Red campaign was around the theme of the color red. Users could share or pin anything that had the color red, including  red dresses, red photos, or anything red that caught their attention.  Then if a user posted a picture wearing red, using the hashtag #MacysGoRed, the retailer promised to donate $2, up to $250,000 to the American Heart Association.

While I found the awareness campaign easy to digest, ironically, it wasn’t really visually strong.  Pinterest is an excellent example of how collective images with a theme in mind could bring out a powerful message.  Yet, there weren’t many pictures posted and many of the women were “models” posing in evening gowns.  

I did a brief search of heart disease, GoRed, and stroke on the site and I found a plethora of information.  I wonder how Macy’s board would have looked if they streamlined or pooled the information together…you know like RSS feed reader tool added to the board.

The power of a successful campaign is reflective in the number of people you were able to reach.   Pinterest is growing in popularity, however there are many people who haven’t heard of the site.  So, did the campaign make it to them, or were they left our of the conversation?  As I mentioned above, there are a number of social media sites out there.  It would have behoved Macy’s to get those avenues involved for cross promoting.

That’s just my two cents.  I’ve included the link to Macy’s Pinterest GoRed campaign and to a Facebook campaign from the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that really tells the story of how social media can be a great tool in fighting for a health-releated cause .  I’m curious to know your thoughts.

Until then, get healthy, stay involved!

MultiMedia Script: WHAT IS A HEART ATTACK?


     (music and ambient noise: “Race for Time” by James Horner)


Heart disease was never on Lillian’s radar.  She focused more on the history of breast cancer in her family.   But on Mother’s Day 2002, a heart attack stopped her dead in her tracks.


     (sounds and music: racing heart beat, heavy breathing, woman screaming in pain, dishes clashing “Lillian’s Heart Attack” by James Horner plays in background)


Heart attacks are the #1 killer of women.  



It happens when your heart can’t get oxygen because your arteries are blocked.  Acting fast can save your life. 

Lillian was hit with her mortality at age 36 because she recognize the warning symptoms.


  Hi, I’m Kaylee, and a heart attack killed my mother.  Please make your health a priority. Know the signs, take prevention steps now, before it’s too late.



This Mother’s day, give the gift that matters…know the symptoms of heart attack.



Executive Summary (script): Personal Coaching for Heart Healthy living

Prepared for: Interactive Media Class 506iv

INTRO: Heart disease is a burden that has been wreaking havoc on our nation for far too long!  About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol can significantly reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.  How do you make your health a priority?  Motivational speaker and personal wellness coach, Princess Cupcake shows you how to empower yourself with a few lifestyle changes, so you can move forward.

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TAG: The truth is drugs won’t cure heart disease.  It can certainly help control it, but that means your lifestyle does matter a lot.  Are you ready to start living a heart healthier life?  Contact Lenise about Heart Healthy Living at www.princesscishere.wordpress.com or send a tweet on Twitter @PrincessCIsHere to schedule your first coaching session.

*keep in mind this posting was created as part of a classroom assignment,  and is merely a mock proposal. 

Eliminate the excuses and exercise

I’m scheduled for twelve races this year. It’s part of my New Year’s resolution for 2014.  It’s a first for me.  I don’t usually sign up for  more than six races in a year.  And I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution before.  To me, if you want to do something, why wait unit the new year to make the pledge?

But this is a new year and I am all about making changes if that’s what it takes to stay healthy.

Regular physical activity can lower your risk of so many things; heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.   Bu lately I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with my fitness goals.   I know what I’m supposed to do and why.  It’s just seems easier said than done.

There are just so many excuses:

  • No money for gym membership
  • I don’t have time
  • I’m too tired
  • No break from the kids

All of the things I just mentioned are lame rationalizations so I can weasel myself out of doing the work.

The truth is, no one need a membership or fancy trainer to exercise.  Sure they’re nice to have but you don’t have to go anywhere, an exercise DVD works just as well, and dumbells or a resistance ball are perfect for using at home.  Or just grab a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement for 15mins.

If you don’t think you will have time after work, or you’ll be too tired, exercising in the morning is a great option.  Treat your workout like a doctors appointment, schedule it on your calendar.  You will get it out of the way and be done for the day.

Using your kids as an excuse doesn’t work either.  I have children at home and I totally understand –it’s not easy to break away.  I had to learn how to exercise with them.  I mean, who needs a medicine ball, when you’ve got a 19 month old that weighs 25 pounds?  I’m engaging the muscles in my abs, and my arms too.

It’s all about changing your way of thinking.

For me, I know that I don’t want to embarrass myself.  So my latest trick has been to sign up for races.  I know that I have to train for them, so I don’t look bad come race day.  In the process of training, I’m getting that regular activity.

It’s funny, I never liked running when I was younger.  It was a chore and extremely difficult.  Now that I’m in my mid 30’s, I find that it brings me a certain amount of peace that I have a hard time duplicating with any other activity.

Here’s to a new year and a healthier me.


Infographic: Healthy Hearts by PrincessCupcake


I am not sure when it happened, but memes have exploded in popularity.  The series of pictures with some sort of footnote attached seem to have a great way of garnering attention.

I was tasked with creating an animated infographic based on something I strongly believe in for my school project.   If you follow my blog, you know I am a strong advocate for heart disease awareness.   So, I chose a simple illustration on heart disease and  simple everyday activities to reduce your risk.


This meme was created by Princess Cupcake, a grad student at Quinnipiac University who’s on a mission to help people take better care of their bodies.

Princess Cupcake lost her grandmother to heart disease when she was a teenager.  It has been her goal since then to make sure others don’t suffer the same grief.

For additional information on Princess Cupcake, please refer to the “About the Author” page or contact her on Twitter at @princesscishere.


Pitch for Personal Coach: Staying Heart Healthy

Stop.  If you’ve ever wanted to life a healthier, happier and longer life look no further.   This is the page you were meant to stumble upon, or the blog you were destined to find.  I am going to help you develop a healthier body, by getting you heart healthy.

Heart disease is a burden that has been wreaking havoc on our nation for far too long.  About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths!

But that doesn’t have to be the case.  Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol can significantly reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.

You can protect your heart by:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in salt; low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Taking a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Not smoking. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible.

The steps sound easy enough right?  But being told to do something and actually doing it, everyday, are two different things.  Whether you don’t know where to start, or you need accountability and motivation, a personal coach can take you to that next level.

But just what is a personal coach?  The International Coach Federation (ICF) — the leading global coaching organization and professional association for coaches — defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

If you follow my blog, you know I have long been an advocate for heart disease prevention.  I lost my grandmother to heart disease when I was young.  To say her death had a significant impact on me, would be a gross understatement.  I managed to move past the tragedy by helping others maintain healthier lifestyles.

I am not promising to “fix” you.  My plan is to get you on track, and provide you with the tools to keep you there.  I will provide you with simple yet delicious heart healthy recipes, the top exercises to improve your heart health, and motivational videos.

I understand how hard to can be, wanting to make a change, but not knowing how to start –or feeling defeated when your will-power gives out.  I will not give up on you.  Instead I give you my word, that in five weeks I will have you feeling better and living heather.  And to top it all off, we will have some fun along the way.

Aren’t you tired of hearing the statistics of heart disease?  This is our time to make a difference.

It is that simple.


REWRITE: Behind The Scenes

I met Arthur James, several months ago, in his hospital room.  He was draped in one of those dreadful hospital gowns, prepped and ready for surgery.

James told me he was in his early 50’s and had been experiencing  shortness of breath and fatigue.  He went to see his cardiologist, in hopes of a mild diagnoses.  Instead, he was informed that his symptoms were early stages of heart disease.  To keep his condition from worsening, doctors needed to act fast.

Cardiologists perform cardiac catheterizations to get rid of the blockage in arteries.  The medical procedure is used to perform angiograms and deploy stents to prop open treated vessels that provide the critical blood supply to the heart’s muscle.

A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, upper thigh, or neck and threaded to your heart.

But in this particular procedure,  doctors went with a different approach called, radial catheterization, or catheterization via the wrist.

According to Dr. McLean Trotter, Interventional Cardiologist at Thomas Hospital, radial catheterizations are seen as a much more comfortable and safer for patients, because it’s associated with fewer bleeding complications.

“The Achilles’ heel in putting in a stent has typically been bleeding complications.  But if you take that out of the equation altogether, with a radial procedure, it adds to the benefit for the patient,” said Dr. Trotter.

The technique is potentially cheaper for the health-care system too.   Ironically, in comparison to traditional catheterization, only a small percentage of radial procedures are performed in the U.S. because few cardiologists are trained in the technique.

Heart disease is the number on killer in America.  But cardiologists say you don’t have to end up in the operating room if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco
  • Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular health screenings

“There is no question there are some patients that are much more prone to coronary disease, via a genetic disposition, however, with good diet and exercise you really can prevent a lot of it,” explained Dr. Trotter.

James admits he hasn’t done the best job in taking care of himself.  He’s had two heart attacks in the past few years, and smoked a lot.  He is looking to make a change in the New Year so he can around for his four children and grand-kids.

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