Blue Cross Employee, R.N., Reclaiming Health After Losing Mom to Heart Disease

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Lisa Holton-Snider had more reason than most to wear red on Feb. 6, National Wear Red Day, as a way to raise awareness about heart disease.
“I wear red for several reasons: first, to remind women that heart disease is our number one killer; second, in remembrance of my mother and grandmother, who lost their battles with heart disease; third, I have been a critical care R.N. for almost 27 years, and I love working with heart disease patients and their families. Wearing red is a great educational tool to remind people of all ages that we need to talk about heart disease to help find a cure. Finally, I wear red as a reminder to myself to continue monitoring my health to avoid developing heart disease,” she wrote for a recent internal BCBSM e-newsletter. Holton-Snider works as a case manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, working with UAW retirees to help them manage their health. Her life has been disproportionately touched by heart disease. She not only lost her mom and grandma to the disease, her husband also has heart disease attributed to an infection caused by his Lyme disease that entered his heart, and her son, who she adopted at four months, was born with a leaky pulmonary valve. Several other family members have also had problems with their hearts. Holton-Snider holds back tears remembering her mother’s final moments. She’d been waiting on a new aortic valve and had left the hospital to stay with her daughter. She got sick and despite efforts by her son and husband to perform CPR, Holton-Snider’s mom passed away. “She put up a fight,” Holton-Snider said. “She wasn’t in the hospital and that’s what was important.”
Holton-Snider hasn’t had any heart problems herself, but the stress of caring for her mother did lead her to gain weight and adopt some unhealthy habits. She’s working to regain her health and has lost 40 pounds thanks to an increased focus on exercise and eating well. She takes vitamins and gets her cholesterol checked yearly as additional ways to stay healthy. “I’m going back to the gym. I work out. I’d like to lose another 50 pounds and life will be good,” she said. From May to September, she serves as a photographer for the Michigan Lightning, a semi pro football team based in Dearborn. Running up and down the sidelines is an additional way she gets exercise. Holton-Snider also counsels the team on their health. Her husband is a trainer for the team and her son is the punter and kicker, and a source of inspiration for Holton-Snider to focus on her health. “I want to be around,” she said. “My son’s only 21, that’s the big reason right there. I’d like to be around for awhile.” She counsels her BCBSM retirees to take care of their health. After joining a nearby Planet Fitness, Holton-Snider said she’s encouraged to see a lot of older members working out when she goes. “I see more and more 70-plus-year-olds hanging out at the gym and I just love it,” she said. Holton-Snider is determined to be healthy and fit into her later decades as well, which is why she’s devoted to taking care of her overall health, as well as her heart. When her son was still young, she was involved in a car accident. A semi truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, hitting the car Holton-Snider was driving as a visiting nurse in Virginia over Memorial Day weekend. “I figure if I can survive a semi hitting me, I certainly don’t need to succumb to heart disease, right?,” she said. Check out these other blog posts about American Heart Month:
Photo credit: Lisa Holton-Snider
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