Keep putting yourself out there. Every time I go to an event, I make a new connection and these connections have ripple effects. It is amazing how my network has grown just by putting myself out there.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Dupuy . Victoria has always had a passion for life, love, and learning. In 2013, her life took an unexpected tragic turn when her husband Dean died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 46. Dean led a very active lifestyle and certainly did not fit the profile of someone who was at risk for a heart attack. Upon Dean’s death, Victoria immersed herself in learning all she could about heart disease, early detection and who really is at risk. Through her research, she learned that there is a simple test called a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan (aka heart scan) that identifies heart disease at the earliest stages and can potentially prevent a heart attack in asymptomatic men and women. Through sharing her newly-found knowledge and personal experience with friends, family and the community, Victoria quickly became aware that there were many other people with experiences just like hers. This awareness, combined with Victoria’s desire to prevent others from experiencing the terrible loss that she and her family went through, was her incentive to found No More Broken Hearts — because for Victoria, every single heart matters. Over the past 5 years, Victoria and her foundation have worked to raise awareness about the Coronary Artery Calcium Scan. No More Broken Hearts has participated in numerous events and Victoria has been a guest speaker for local and national organizations as well as podcasts, news and radio shows. In 2019 Victoria’s dream of creating a mobile heart scan bus became a reality when No More Broken Hearts partnered with Life Saving Images. Together they have removed the barriers to receiving this important, life saving test. This mobile bus is now bringing affordable and accessible heart scans to the Bay Area community.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to start on your career path?
Sept. 29, 2013 my husband of 20 years died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 46 while playing ice hockey. Dean lead a very active lifestyle, had been for his annual exam months prior, which he passed with “flying colors”. Dean certainly did not fit the profile of someone who was at risk for a heart attack. I remember the next morning sitting in my backyard shocked and numbed and wondering what just happened. How could this have happened? There was no warning. I called his doctor a few days later and asked if he had missed something in Dean’s annual exam and his doctor said “I am so sorry for your loss, it is just not something we test for, it is not like getting a mammogram or colonoscopy.”
This is where my journey and career path began.
I immersed myself in learning all I could about heart disease, early detection and who really is at risk. I learned very quickly about Coronary Artery Calcium Scans (aka Mammogram of the Heart) and how this simple test, that has been around for over 20 years, identifies heart disease at the earliest stages so it can be treated and managed and potentially prevent a heart attack especially in asymptomatic men and women. I connected with several prominent cardiologist in the field of Coronary Artery Calcium Scans who use this test regularly in their practice and learned (and still learn from them) about early detection for heart disease.
As I started to share with family, friends and my community I was shocked to learn that no one had heard of this test. Not only were their many stories like mine of sudden loss but many of these lives could of been saved by this simple test. That was the point that I created No More Broken Hearts.
Did you set out to start a movement? If so, what was your vision? If not, what did you imagine would be the impact of your work?
I knew that No More Broken Hearts could make a huge impact in educating the public about the coronary artery calcium scan. Too many people were not aware of this simple life saving test and our goal was to raise awareness. So yes, we wanted to create a movement that knowledge is power and that we all must advocate for our health by asking our doctors for this test. Our vision to spread this message from the beginning was to participate in community events, to speak to as many organizations as possible and to ultimately develop a mobile heart scan unit which rolled out June 2019 in partnership with Life Saving Images.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t really think of a funny mistake, but I can say that we are continuously learning lessons. The biggest lesson is that sometimes there are delays and that even the best laid plans can have challenges that are out of our control. The key is to roll with these bumps and to have patience and faith and stay focused on the vision.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
I am so proud to say that our social impact is that we are saving lives by raising awareness about the coronary artery calcium scan as well now being able to provide the test to our community conveniently and affordably. Through our Facebook Group, press and community events we are raising awareness about this test and locally we are now able to provide it. One of the biggest hurdles we have heard from people who want to obtain this test, is that their insurance provider does not cover it. With our mobile heart scan bus, we have taken out this barrier.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
I have so many stories to share but this recent story is one that not only shows the benefit of knowing your calcium score but how this information can impact your health.
We recently received a message from one of the participants in our In A Heartbeat Study. He reached out to let us know that although he is only 39 years old, he has heart issues (A-fib and Premature Ventricular Contraction or PVC). For several years he has been taking medication to manage these conditions.
Upon getting the results from our study, he learned that he also has heart disease. Although he had a low score (8.9) he still had a higher calcium score than 80% of people his same age and gender. More importantly, upon bringing up these results to his regular physician, he learned that the medication he was currently taking to manage his PVC is one that is now considered unsafe for those with heart disease (which he now knows he has because of receiving the coronary artery calcium scan) His doctor has now adjusted his medication (which could have been life threatening) based on the results of the CAC Scan.
It is messages like this that underscore the importance of getting a CAC scan not just to identify heart disease but to also provide information that can impact the overall treatment of heart health.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
YES, we need legislation to change so that the coronary artery calcium scans become more accepted and used by our doctors during one’s annual exam and that this preventative test is covered by insurance — as many other preventative test are. There have been thousands of studies as to the validity and importance of this simple test and yet it has not become protocol. Presidents get it, people with NASA get it and the rest of us don’t even know about it. We want to see this important test become as widely accepted as a mammogram and colonoscopy.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership to me means having a vision and sharing it with others so we can join together to make change happen. I feel that by sharing my story I am able to educate and hopefully motivate and/or inspire others to advocate for their health. Not only asking for the coronary artery calcium scan but in all aspects of their health.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. You are here to educate. About 10 years ago my intuitive mentor said to me “Victoria you have such a great responsibility to people. It’s senses that in a past life you were in a position of authority and you knew something that you didn’t share and people died”. Because I lost my husband to this horrible disease, all I wanted was to convince every person I spoke to that was over 45 that they NEEDED this test. And that they had to get it. I found myself becoming so frustrated when people who knew my story had still not gotten this test. I realized that all I can do is provide information and educate others. As much as I would like to have every person who hears my story get this test, I know some will not. I have to be ok that they at least now have the information.
2. Keep putting yourself out there. Every time I go to an event, I make a new connection and these connections have ripple effects. It is amazing how my network has grown just by putting myself out there.
3. You will become a connector. I have a true passion for connecting people to others. Through my various communities and networks, I have been able to connect people who otherwise would not have met. It is through these connections that NMBH has grown and has been able to have such a huge impact on our community.
4. Speak up….you know more than you think. I attend many meetings with doctors and healthcare professionals and being among this group can be intimidating. However, I have come to realize that while I may not have a medical education, throughout these 5 years I have become very knowledgeable when it comes to heart disease and heart attack prevention.
5. Have faith. From my very first board meeting when I shared my vision for No More Broken Hearts I knew that a mobile bus would be part of the story. Even though many (even my board) felt the vision was too big — I knew that with faith and perseverance this dream would become a reality. I am proud to say that in June our mobile heart scan bus made its debut.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
GO BIG OR GO HOME. If you are going to do something go all in. At our annual fundraising event last year — our heart bus pulled up to it. Our heart bus is a remodeled Tour Bus so you can image how big it is — 40ft in length. When many of the guest came they were shocked at “how big” it was and heard many times “we thought is was the size of the van”. When I introduced the first speaker I said, “Don’t you all know — GO BIG OR GO HOME AND YES WE WENT BIG”.
THE VIEW IS WORTH THE CLIMB. Dean worked for Apple and was a manager in the portable division (laptops). His team was responsible for the building of all portables in China. It was very stressful and when the team was getting to their limit, Dean would say “come on guys the view is worth the climb. When Steven Jobs announces the new product and says you can buy this today it is because of all of us and that view is amazing.”
Both of these mottoes are relevant in my life in many aspects of my journey. I have a big heart, a big spirit, and even a bigger light. The past six years have not been easy for sure but it has been filled with great love, care and most LIFE. Going through a sudden loss really has given me life — I know each minute, each day, each relationship, each connection is all part of this life and it is to be loved, cherished and share with joy. My view has been totally worth the climb.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for sharing all of this!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.