The day that changed everything started out like any other for Rachel Doucette. She planned to attend her oldest son’s book fair and was looking forward to a conference call in the afternoon. She would miss both.
Early that morning on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, she curled up on the garage floor with chest pains so strong that giving birth paled in comparison. As midnight approached, a cardiac surgeon at a Boston hospital told her husband, Mike, she may not survive.
Two days before her 36th birthday, Doucette, an active, healthy mother of three suffered a heart attack.
The Georgetown resident is now sharing details of that terrifying day as a 2013 Go Red spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
In its 10th year, Go Red for Women is a national movement to fight heart disease in women and to call for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health.
“I’ve the opportunity to hopefully save the lives of other women and empower other women so they don’t have to go through what I went through,” Doucette said. “If I can make any positive change from what happened to me, it’d all be worth it.”
Her young age, the sequence of events and passion for raising awareness of what is sometimes called the “silent killer” of women made Doucette an ideal Go Red representative, said Kathleen Parente, communications director for the Heart Association. The selection of Doucette and five other local spokeswomen was announced at a reception in late September.
“It’s such a moving story for other women to hear,” Parente said. “She’s the classic mom trying to care for her children, when in reality, she’s suffering a heart attack.”
On that 10-degree winter morning, a coincidence worked in Doucette’s favor. Her daughter Rebecca, then almost 7, who usually rode the school bus with her older brother, decided to get a ride to school from her mother instead. Other than a looming blizzard, it seemed like an ordinary day.