It’s a ‘G’ Thing: 80-year-old Joyce Lenard gives back to the fight against heart disease

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“I’m a Scorpio," Joyce Lenard said. "Oh wait a second, I’m a Taurus!" I replied. "We’re actually attracted, be careful!”

The stars seemed to align when I met Joyce Lenard. This 80-year-old is strong, smart and sassy.

“I had more wrinkles on my face when I was 30," I laughed. "So would you please tell me how the heck you did this?" She replied, "I actually don’t know."

She worked for years as a special education teacher before turning her efforts to a different cause.

“I was a regional assistant for Senator Hillary Clinton out on Long Island,” Lenard explained. "What did she write to you here?" I asked while showing her a picture. "'Thanks for a great victory on Long Island, you and your camera were there every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without you', and that was so nice of her,” Lenard said.

Joyce loves helping people and her giving nature even saved her daughter's life.

“I had donated my kidney [to her], I was 69, at the time I was the oldest donor of a kidney in Columbia Presbyterian history,” she explained.

But about 10 years ago, Joyce was the one who needed support.

“It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I was at my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah," she remembered. "Then somewhere between the salad and the main course, came this incredible sharp pain, in my chest and it was persistent.”

“We discovered that Joyce had a very abnormal electrocardiogram that looked like she was a having a massive heart attack,” Dr. Stacey Rosen, VP of Women's Health at Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health, said.

It turned out to be a form of heart disease.

“It’s the number one killer of women even though we’ve always thought of it as a man’s disease,” she explained. "90 percent of women have at least one risk factor."

Dr. Stacey Rosen, of Northwell Heath, has been with Joyce since day one.

“There’s a very strong relationship with her, she’s been kind, and wonderful to me and my family,” Lenard smiled.

Web extra: Dr. Stacey Rosen explains symptoms of heart disease

“Joyce and I have the perfect partnership, because together we have been able to keep Joyce healthy, and now she’s using everything she’s learned from the time that we’ve met to really empower other women,” Dr. Rosen said.

Which she does now as a trained 'WomenHeart Champion.'

“I can now lead a group of women and we talk about how to live happy, healthier and less stressful, more mindful life," Lenard said.

And Joyce definitely isn't slowing down anytime soon!

“I would just like to keep being able to be productive and make a difference in the world," she said.

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi