Dawn B's Story - Heart & Vascular Patient Testimonials - Stamford Health

Dawn B's Story

Ask Dawn Brusco about her experience at Stamford Health's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, and she is only too happy to talk about how it changed her life.

The 50-year-old Stamford resident has had type 1 diabetes for 43 years. She had a heart attack at the age of 40 and did cardiac rehab at Greenwich Hospital after her stents were put in. Two weeks later, the stents collapsed and she needed bypass surgery. “It was a horrible, humiliating experience,” she said. “I refused to do cardiac rehab again the second time around, and remained symptom free until last August (2012) when I mistakenly thought I was having another heart attack.”

At that time, Dawn was under a lot of stress at home and, rather than go back to Greenwich, went to see Dr. Steven Horowitz. She underwent a series of tests, after which Dr. Horowitz suggested she try cardiac rehab at the Tully Health Center. “He was quite persuasive and said I could just try it once…which I did…and I loved it.”

What was different this time around? For starters, when she walked into the gym the first thing she noticed was that everyone was happy.

“I was greeted by a smiling Eva Pasquino, who was aware I was under a lot of stress and that I didn’t really want to be there,” she said. “When we started talking about the program, I burst into tears. She was very patient and never made me feel embarrassed, which made me feel like she really just wanted to help.”

On her first day in the program, trainer Kellie Hayes showed Dawn how to put on the telemetry sensors and showed her around the exercise equipment. Kellie made sure that Dawn was mentally and physically ready to start. The time passed so quickly, Dawn was quite surprised when her hour-long session was finished.

After that, for the three months Dawn was in cardiac rehab, she worked with trainers Chad Herzog and Stefan Cercone, while Andrew ( AJ) Pfleger worked the telemetry computers.

“I was an overweight woman who hadn’t formally exercised in years and yet they made me feel that not only could I do this program, but I would also eventually be physically fit. They recognized my concerns and were sympathetic, but still knew how to keep me motivated. The trainers were amazing, and made me feel like anything was possible.”

Dawn completed rehab at the end of February (2013) and continues to exercise at the Health & Fitness Center (HFI) at Tully because of Stefan and Chad. “They were instrumental in my new attitude. They made me believe in myself.”

Because her home life can be chaotic sometimes she walks into the gym and needs to get a few things off her chest before she starts to exercise. But the staff has always been sincere in their willingness to listen – and that has made all the difference.

Dawn can’t say enough about the program and the well-trained, compassionate, patient people she has come to know because of it. “I met incredible people through cardiac rehab and I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them. I go to the gym at least three times a week and I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my whole life.”