By Ron Hayes
No, it’s not breast cancer.
In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women, according to the Harvard Medical School.
Women are 10 times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer.
Women have a 50 percent greater chance of dying during heart surgery than men.
While men usually experience crushing chest pain during a heart attack, women describe indigestion, nausea, difficulty breathing or fatigue — symptoms easily misdiagnosed.
And more than 40 percent of American women do not survive their first heart attack.
Marg Williams knows this very well. She’s one of the fortunate 60 percent who did survive, and now the Ocean Ridge business owner and craftswoman wants to use her talent to help save others across America.
At her jewelry and clothing boutique, MARG of Pepper Pike, at 811 George Bush Blvd. in Delray Beach, Williams sells an assortment of blouses and shoes, leather goods and jewelry. But she has one necklace of pearlized glass and gold-filled tubing that fuels her dreams.
“I want to string this particular piece across America for women’s heart health,” she says.
Not literally. Her goal is to sell enough of the 17-inch necklaces to create a symbolic chain across the continent.
The necklaces, which she makes herself, sell for $68, of which Williams will donate $5 to groups that serve women’s heart health, such as JFK Medical Center or the Cleveland Clinic.
“I’ve learned that life is precious,” she says, “but I’m not finished living, and I want to do something for others who have heart problems.”
Now 63, Williams was diagnosed with tachycardia at 23. At 47, she had an unsuccessful cardiac ablation in an attempt to correct the irregular heartbeat.
Two years later, she had a silent heart attack and received a pacemaker.
Today, she sees her internist, Dr. Adel Sidky at Bethesda Memorial Hospital, every three weeks and lives with a defibrillator in her chest.
“I have wire leads from the defibrillator on either side of my heart to keep it beating,” she says. “I’m like a robot.”
But she remains both youthful and upbeat, stringing new necklaces at home while watching TV and working with her husband, David, to spread the word about heart health.
“So far, we’ve raised about $400, which we’ll probably donate to the local chapter of the American Heart Association,” reports David Williams.
That’s a long way from a nationwide necklace, but Marg Williams’ heart is in the right place.
“Even if we just make it across Florida, I’d be happy,” Williams says. “I just want to give back because I’ve been lucky. Very lucky.”
For more information, visit www.necklaceacrossamerica.com.