February – “Go Red” Month for Heart Health Awareness. My personal “Go Red” story

My Personal “Go Red” Story: My Father’s Footsteps

February is Heart Awareness Month.  Today, February 4th, happens to be “Go Red” day at the New Brunswick campus of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital where everyone is encouraged to wear red to promote heart health. 

Today I “Went Red” along with my colleagues for a team photo.  But, “Going Red” has a deeper and very personal meaning to me.

Today I went red for my father, Arjit “Artie” Mahal.

My father and I are very much alike in many ways even down to the fact that we are both Pisces and our birthdays are exactly one week apart, both ending in 8, my family’s lucky number.  My father’s birthday is actually on the very last day of Heart Awareness Month, February 28th

I am and want to be like my father in every way possible except one:  Cardiovascular Disease, which runs in my father’s family.

When my father was about my age, 47, he had a heart attack in 1996. He needed to subsequently have a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) double heart bypass surgery.  This surgery was performed at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick campus by the (late) Dr. Gregory Scott.  The CABG was successful and my father fully recovered and, thus, began a regimen of a heart-healthy lifestyle which he has vigorously maintained for the past 26 years.   

A few months ago my father authored and published his own personal heart health journey in the book which I am holding up: “Undo Diabetes, Heal Heart and Lose Weight”.  Until I told him February was Heart Awareness Month he had no idea.

When my father and I last spoke he mentioned Robert Wood Johnson New Brunswick and Dr. Gregory Scott.  He told me how he is forever indebted to RWJNB for the superior care and compassion he received as a patient here.  I am forever indebted to RWJNB not only as my employer but as a life-saver because without RWJNB and Dr. Scott I would not have a father today.  RWJBH holds a special place in both our hearts.

Though I am well into adulthood I am still proud to say that I follow in my father’s footsteps except in my personal health goals where I intend to never follow my father into Cardiovascular Disease.

We humans only have one heart, and one father.  Take care of your heart and your father (or mother).  If Cardiovascular Disease runs in your family get checked out by your physician.  If you wait, it may be to late.  I’m glad it wasn’t too late for my father.

Thank you RWJBH.

I love you, Papa.   

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