Helen Ortlieb 

Helen Ortlieb has been a member at the McConnell Heart Health Center since 2004.  Her world took quite a turn in August of 2013 when she was diagnosed with a Stage 4 gastrointestinal tumor.   As you can imagine, it would have been easy for Helen to have a negative outlook or even be upset with her situation. Throughout her diagnosis, she has taken it all in stride and taken one day at a time. Helen currently is on medication for her disease and will most likely be on it the rest of her life, but she doesn’t let that stop her from continuing to focus on her goals. Helen’s medication does cause her to feel fatigued, but she chooses to look at it similar to others who may have to take medication for diabetes or high blood pressure.  

When Helen describes her diagnosis she says, “For me, this is a chronic disease that I will deal with for the rest of my life.” Part of life is caring for her health, so she decided to continue to come to MHHC and keep exercising.  Helen also made the decision to participate in the Wolfe Foundation Cancer Wellness Program, an 8-week program at MHHC for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. She was already a regular exerciser but felt she needed more guidance and wanted to learn more about what she could do to stay as healthy as possible. After finishing the program, she has noticed that her white blood cell count had improved dramatically, which she attributes to some changes she made after participating in the program. She visits the Center 3 to 4 days per week and states that it is “just part of what I do.  It is not a choice. It is part of my life, and I know it is needed in order to keep up with my children and grandchildren.”   

Helen is truly an inspiration of courage and determination.  When asked about her favorite part about exercise, she answered, “When I am done.” I am sure there are a few people out there who would agree. Keep up the great work Helen!