Rhododendron woman shares her story after suffering heart attack

A woman in Rhododendron is sharing her story of survival ahead of the American Heart Association's "Heart and Stroke Walk" in downtown Portland.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:11 AM PDT
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RHODODENDRON, Ore. (KPTV) - A woman in Rhododendron is sharing her story of survival ahead of the American Heart Association’s “Heart and Stroke Walk” in downtown Portland.

Future Days. It’s the name of Amy Matson’s favorite Pearl Jam song, and the name of her team that will be walking in the Heart and Stroke Walk.

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Future days is also Matson’s greatest hope for herself, ever since she first suffered from a heart attack in Aug. 2020 while out for a run by her home.

“I was about a quarter way through the run when I felt a heavy pinch in my chest,” Matson said. “The official diagnosis was something called spontaneous coronary artery dissection, was the initial diagnosis. But it was also complex coronary artery disease is something I have.”

Since then, it has been an uphill battle for Matson. Cardiac catherization’s - a procedure to clear her clogged arteries - and even a failed double bypass surgery.

“We were really crushed by that because it is something that my doctor’s hadn’t seen before,” Matson said.

Matson even turned to radiation therapy to help with the blockage in her arteries.

“Long term, it hasn’t proven, really, to be a long term solution,” she said.

Despite what seems like never-ending setbacks, Matson remains focused on future days. Her positive outlook, even across her shirt.

“It says ‘Determination over negativity,’” she said. “When I saw it, the first thing I thought was, that’s exactly where I need to be.”

Matson’s battle with heart disease continues. Her case now in front of a team at the Mayo Clinic with the possibility of another bypass surgery, and it that fails again, maybe even a heart transplant in the future.

She’s determined to keep fighting with the support of her cardiology team at Legacy Emanuel and her husband, Brett. Her driving force, their future days together, as sang in their favorite Pearl Jam song.

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“There is a line at the end of the song that says ‘I believe, because I can see our future days, days of you and me,’ and that’s really special to us because we want more days together,” Matson said. “We’ve been together 22 years, we want another 22.”

The American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Walk is happening this Saturday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. If you would like to show your support for Watson and other survivors of heart disease and stroke, registration is free and still open. Find out more here.