February 29, 2016 0 comments

A Mother’s Broken Heart

Ina Quinn with her beloved daughter Bec.

Ina Quinn has been through extreme heartbreak. Losing her 40-year-old daughter Rebecca (Bec) to Ewing’s Sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) in October of 2014, Ina had to endure her own grief while helping Rebecca’s three beautiful sons through the loss of their beloved mother.

In October 2015, approaching the one year anniversary of losing Bec, Ina was diagnosed with Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (TTC), also known as ‘broken heart syndrome’.

“Before it happened I felt like I was living it in a heart attack. The grief was so overwhelming,” Ina said.

TTC is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, usually as the result of severe emotional or physical stress, such as a sudden illness, a serious accident, a natural disaster or in Ina’s case, losing a loved one.

“It was a week before the anniversary of losing Bec when I sat down one evening to watch TV and suddenly felt very sick and threw up. I tried to ignore it but then I turned white, I couldn’t lie down and had to sit up in a very unnatural way and felt like I had a painful stich,” Ina said.

“In the end my partner Martin drove me to the Lyell McEwin Hospital and once I was seen they were quickly able to diagnose me with TTC. I was in there for five nights and was home for the anniversary – I was on medication for my condition but of course I felt empty.

“I lost my Mother to cancer when she was 59 and I thought that was the hardest thing I would ever have to endure…but nobody should have to go through losing their daughter. It happened the wrong way around – I sometimes still feel like it didn’t really happen.”

Always thinking of others, after her diagnosis Ina didn’t hesitate to agree to be part of a study conducted at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) on TTC which includes regular tests and surveys.

“I was more than happy to volunteer for the research and I feel lucky to be a part of it – it makes me feel very safe and it will help other people in the future” Ina said.

“Research in this area is so important. We need to find out more about why this happens to certain people and better ways to handle it, including better managing grief.

“I thought I was handling it, but the reality is I was too busy looking after everyone else.”

Today, Ina is now making a conscious effort to spend more time focusing on her own health seeing a psychologist regularly and has tried Thai Chi and art therapy. She has also felt some comfort in the gift of Australian songwriter, Ash Grunwald’s tribute to Bec his number 1 fan with his song written in her honour – Send Me.

While Ina was lucky to be diagnosed so quickly, one of the issues with TTC is that it is often incorrectly diagnosed as a heart attack and patients may receive inappropriate treatment. The research being conducted at TQEH is looking at improving the diagnosis of TTC and developing treatments. Without people like Ina, this would not be possible.

Australian Heart Research in collaboration with The Hospital Research Foundation is very proud to support this important research into TTC. We cannot thank Ina enough for sharing her story with us. If you wish to donate to this type of research, please visit: www.australianheartresearch.com.au/donate






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