In 2005, Todd Bell, 46, a former NFL football player and Buckeye great, died of a heart attack. Since then, Daphne Bell has turned her husband’s death into a crusade of sorts to educate people about the link between genetics and heart disease.
“Knowing your family history is a big component for me,” Daphne says. “It’s what you don’t know that can cost you your life.”
Her work revolves largely around her foundation, Keeping TABS on Your Heart, which raises funds to screen people for heart disease. (TABS is the acronym for Todd Anthony Bell.) As part of her campaign, Daphne goes to area churches and other venues and talks about how hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol put people at risk for heart disease.
Bell left home the morning of March 16, 2005, and suffered a heart attack in his car 10 minutes later. The former athlete who worked out regularly and ate well did not display any obvious symptoms or signs of heart problems, Daphne recalls. Just a few weeks earlier, Bell had learned his cholesterol was a bit elevated. Daphne found a prescription for a heart scan in his briefcase. Had her husband known his family history, Daphne believes, he would have taken action sooner. And that’s the lesson Daphne wants to teach others.
She is currently on a tour for her book, The Pain Didn’t Kill Me. Two Columbus-area radio stations run 60-second spots of her informing listeners about hypertension and other chronic diseases.
Her message has spread. It’s common for men to approach her in the community and tell her they went to the doctor because of what she said.
“It helps me and comforts me because it ensures me that my husband’s dying wasn’t in vain,” she says.
“I encourage wives to take the one hour a year and go to the checkup with their husband,” she adds. “We hear differently than men and process differently than men. If you have a husband or father, go with them so you can hear what the doctor says.”
Putting her health first
Quovardis Lawrence, 41, is keenly aware of how things affect her health — from food to exercise to stress.
“What last year taught me is that I definitely have to put myself first so I can be all things to everyone else, like my amazing husband and beautiful children and employees I work with,” says Lawrence, a senior technical design director at Abercrombie and Fitch.
Spurring her priority shift was a diagnosis of Raynaud’s disease, a condition that limits blood circulation. She had not been sleeping well, got headaches and often had trouble breathing. Her doctor, Laxmi Mehta, MD, FACC, director of Ohio State’s Women’s Cardiovascular Health Clinic, prescribed Lawrence medication to manage the symptoms. She also informed Lawrence she was obese.