Let’s Celebrate Your VTE Sheroes!

shero (noun)

  1. a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities; a heroine.

May is Women’s Health Month, and we asked you to tell us about your VTE Sheroes — women who have made a positive impact in the life of a blood clot patient or the blood clot community as a whole — and you delivered! All month long, we’ll be updating this page as you send us more amazing health care providers, caregivers, blood clot patients, and advocates. We’re grateful for everyone who has participated so far. Let’s celebrate these VTE Sheroes! To send your submission, fill out this form.

Rachel Rice: Caregiver

My mom has helped me through so much. I had a massive pulmonary embolism with heart failure in October 2022, and it’s been a long road to recovery. She suffers from her own chronic health issues, but she still was there for me when I was unable to function. Her faith and strength are always unwavering.

Submitted by: Chelsey Rice

Dr. Shannon Walker: Health Care Provider

Dr. Walker built a predictive model of blood clots in children, automated it in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital electronic medical record, and then spent one year rounding on the highest risk children to ensure they had the right prevention measures. What is really heroic is that she conducted a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Emily Adkins: Blood Clot Patient , Caregiver, Health Care Provider

My daughter Emily Elizabeth Adkins was the people success officer for Dayspring Health. Emily tragically died from a massive pulmonary embolism that stemmed from a blood clot associated with an ankle fracture on Oct 21, 2022 at the age of 23.

Florida passed the Emily Adkins Prevention Act, the first-ever effort to examine blood clot data and the standard of care in Florida.

Emily continues to champion those who cannot speak for themselves through this legislation.

Submitted by: Doug Adkins

Arshell Brooks-Harris: Advocate, Caregiver

Arshell has taken the most horrific tragedy of losing a child to a pulmonary embolism and channeled it into becoming a blood clot advocate. She reaches so many people, particularly within the Black community. A tireless advocate, the NBCA mission has become part of her DNA.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Clara Bueno: Advocate, Caregiver

Clara goes with me to all my doctor appointments, schedules my follow-ups and promptly communicates with my medical time every time I have an issue. She’s visited me at the hospital every day all the times I’ve been admitted. She helps me manage my medications, and she’s even learned wound care skills to care for my recurrent leg ulcers. And beyond being an amazing caregiver, she’s my partner too. Love her!

Submitted by: Chris Schwartz

Doreen Elitharp: Health Care Provider

Doreen has been on the VTE team for over 14 years for our academic medical center. She is one of two NPs that assure patients have appropriate VTE prophylaxis and treatment of VTE in this large hospital.

She sits on numerous committees to improve care of all hospitalized patients (anticoagulation, clinical outcomes and sequential compression device committees, to name a few). She goes the extra mile by educating staff and colleagues on a one-on-one basis regarding VTE. She is always available to answer questions.

She thinks of innovative ways to improve VTE care (different types of nursing education, staff meeting attendance, teaching for the School of Nursing and the Residency Program, and more!) She has improved VTE quality and has the data to show it.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Valerie Southerland: Health Care Provider

Valerie trains students, residents, and nurses how to properly manage warfarin. She built so much trust that my patients wanted to follow her after she changed to another clinic!

She also helps patients afford their DOACs by using patient assistance programs in our facility. Valerie is always available to answer questions and help me when I or a patient is in need.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Lisa Pizarro: Blood Clot Patient

Lisa is an incredible woman! She has overcome so much in her life since having a life-threatening event due to blood clots. She spreads the word about potential dangers associated with blood clots and has even educated me.
She’s compassionate, strong, fierce and an inspiration!

Submitted by: Karen Monetti

Michelle Mitchell: Health Care Provider

Michelle is a Licensed Physical Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist at Wellington Regional Hospital in Florida. She is an amazing health care provider and individual.

Michelle demonstrates outstanding care for her patients and closely monitors and identifies possible symptoms and causes of blood clots and other concerns.

Michelle is diligent and works relentlessly for her patients.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Kristin Billings: Blood Clot Patient

Besides working 40-plus hours a week, Kristin makes it a priority to educate others on blood clots. She is passionate about learning all she can and passing that information along to anyone and everyone she meets. She takes being a survivor very seriously.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Dr. Kristen Sanfilippo: Health Care Provider

She is an amazing doctor/scientist who saved me from dying from blood clots!

Submitted by: Jas Gary Pearson

Cathy Iddles: Blood Clot Patient

When I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, Cathy was there supporting me. I never realized that Cathy was also a pulmonary embolism survivor. She supported me through my darkest times and made me understand that all my feelings were justified and normal. She’s an absolute diamond and I’m so grateful to have met and had her share her story with me.

Submitted by: Katie Heslop

Sarah Gilchrist: Caregiver

Sarah Gilcrist was the mother of Caleb Huebner, an amazing young man who brought light to so many people’s lives. He participated in Special Olympics, was fluent in ASL and was the football manager for his high school.

Caleb’s journey with blood clots started in April 2022, when he was seen for muscle pain. We were told it was a “superficial blood clot” and “not life-threatening,” it will heal over time and no blood thinners are needed.

Something didn’t sit right with Mom and she made a follow up appointment with a cardiologist on May 13, 2022. The cardiologist said same thing, “superficial blood clot, not life-threatening, no blood thinners needed.”

On May 14, 2022, Caleb had no signs or symptoms but passed away in his mother’s arms at Dave and Buster’s, his favorite place to be. There is a memorial plaque that hangs on the wall.

Caleb passed at the young age of 22. Because of Caleb’s age, they never took his blood clot seriously.

We need  more awareness of blood clots.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Ashley Dean: Advocate, Health Care Provider

I am nominating my daughter, Ashley, because she experienced the death of her sister Kaylie (pictured in blue dress) in January of 2022. Ashley’s sister was 21 when she passed away suddenly due to undiagnosed bilateral pulmonary emboli.

Since that time, Ashley has been an advocate for blood clot awareness and has channeled her grief into supporting a memorial fund in her sister’s name. She helped me plan a fundraiser for the memorial fund that raised over $6,700 which will be used to support a non-profit near and dear to her sister’s heart.

Ashley is a nurse and continues to do her own research to learn all she can about blood clots so that she can promote awareness and prevent others from suffering as we have.

Submitted by: Tina Schriever

Kate Lipton: Caregiver

My wife, Kate, was with me from the moment I sensed something was wrong, through diagnosis, through recovery, and into my advocacy.

I experienced a clotting event provoked by childbirth, and was put on Lovenox injections twice a day for six months. Kate had a fear of needles, but immediately stepped up and offered to do one of my two daily injections so that I didn’t have to.

I was in and out of the hospital in the weeks following our daughter’s birth, and Kate bravely took care of our newborn while allowing me to focus on my recovery. I was mentally in a tough place from the blood clot diagnosis in addition to other postpartum complications, and Kate encouraged me to seek mental health treatment. She didn’t give up on me and constantly gave me little bits of hope throughout my recovery.

She set alarms on her phone for shot reminders, helped pick out fun Band-Aids for my injections, and encouraged me to speak up when things didn’t seem right. She was a hero and continues to be one!

Submitted by: Hannah Lipton

Julia Granado: Blood Clot Patient, Advocate

Julia was diagnosed with a blood clot in December 2022 after having surgery. Several weeks later she was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. During this time, Julia has stayed strong and continued to work through her nursing program at the College of Elms. Through the pain, both mentally and physically of having blood clots, Julia will be graduating May 2023 with her bachelor’s in nursing. She is a strong woman who has persevered through it all.

Submitted by: Robin Granado-Cross

Nancy Tracy: Caregiver

Over the last 50 years, my sister-in-law Nancy Tracy has been a courageous and loving caregiver to our thrombosis-ravaged family. She and my brother John had a great 35 year marriage with four children, punctuated by John’s ongoing DVT and pulmonary embolism challenges. Nancy held the family together through John’s multiple hospitalizations, doctors’ visits and drug treatments. John tragically died at age 55, leaving Nancy a very young widow.

Nancy’s daughter Sarah suffered a cerebral venous thrombosis at age 26, requiring neurological intensive care and months of rehabilitation. Nancy was with her daughter every step of the way to successful treatment. Sarah is now doing well on a Coumadin regimen.

Nancy and our family weathered another shock in April 2021 when her 36-year-old son Danny suddenly passed away from a pulmonary embolism.

Nancy has maintained a resolutely positive attitude through all of these daunting challenges, strengthened by her religious faith and by her love of nature. She and I are now working together with Yale Smilow Hematology Group on a thrombosis family genetics research project, which has generated promising early results.  This research is described in detail in my “Gerry’s Story” posting on the NBCA Patient Stories website.

Nancy regularly sends out NBCA educational materials to thrombosis-interested people. She is a heroine who has countered tragedy with love and determination. She is an inspiration to all who know her.

Submitted by: Gerry Tracy

Janet Adkins: Advocate

Janet and her husband Doug lost their 23-year-old daughter Emily to a pulmonary embolism in October 2022. They wasted no time channeling their grief into advocacy. Janet, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, rallied state officials to support a bill she and Doug developed, the Emily Adkins Prevention Act. It passed this week in Florida, marking the first-ever effort to examine blood clot data and the standard of care in Florida. Because of Janet’s tireless advocacy, lives will be saved in her daughter’s memory.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Leslie Lake: Advocate, Blood Clot Patient

Leslie experienced a pulmonary embolism in June 2018, and it changed the course of her life.  At a major New York City Hospital, it took nearly 12 hours, as her life hung in the balance, to receive the correct diagnosis. She was sent home with an anticoagulant prescription and next to no information about her diagnosis.

That’s when she found the National Blood Clot Alliance website and support group.  

Now armed with the information to be her own best health advocate, she began asking her doctors questions like, “What clinical guidelines are you basing this treatment decision on?” She regained her life and her health, but knew there were so many others who did not have the same resources or access to quality care.

Leslie immediately got to work as a newly appointed member of NBCA’s Board of Directors. And in 2021, Leslie became the volunteer president of NBCA while still maintaining her demanding full-time role running a top New York City investment firm, leaving many asking the question, “But when does she sleep?”  

Leslie has dedicated countless hours and given generously to this cause that she cares so deeply about. But most of all, she has helped hundreds of thousands of blood clot patients and families through her work with NBCA. Leslie is an energetic leader who gets others excited about this work, but she doesn’t call it work. She calls it a privilege.

Under her leadership, Leslie has ensured blood clot awareness and education will be included in our national health care conversation. Leslie is a VTE Shero through and through. This community is forever changed by her passionate dedication and life-saving work. 

Submitted by: Anonymous

Oh, my, where do I start?! Leslie shows so much passion for the NBCA. You would think this is her only job! That shows in her dedication to helping millions across the world fight this cunning disease that takes many lives each year.

I admire her courage and strength to educate and bring awareness to blood clots. Her tenacity is impeccable. She takes on what seems to be the impossible and resolutions follow.

I’m grateful that God has lead Leslie and I to cross paths and take on this journey to bring awareness and save lives!

Submitted by: Arshell Brooks-Harris

Dr. Caroline Cromwell: Health Care Provider

Dr. Cromwell cares about the whole patient — mentally and physically. She spends so much time with her patients and never rushes until you feel comfortable understanding everything that has happened to you. She also is a huge supporter of the Black and brown communities as well as the special needs of women’s VTE issues. If only all doctors had her empathy.

Submitted by: Leslie Lake

Katie Hoff: Advocate, Blood Clot Patient

As an eight-time World Champion in swimming, Katie Hoff was diagnosed with potentially life-threatening blood clots in her lungs in 2014. The severe pain leading up to this diagnosis forced her to withdraw abruptly from the National Championship that year and then, given the lung damage caused by the blood clots, she retired from swimming in 2015.

Katie became the first official ambassador for the National Blood Clot Alliance in 2017. Since then, she has used her platform to spread blood clot awareness. In March, she spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee about the critical need for blood clot awareness and education funding.

We’re incredibly grateful for Katie’s unwavering, passionate advocacy!

Submitted by: NBCA Staff

Teresa Bordeaux: Advocate, Caregiver

Teresa has been a tireless health advocate for her husband Larry who developed portal vein thrombosis in 2007 with additional clots extending into his mesenteric veins in 2009. Given this complicated diagnosis, Teresa has been his health advocate ever since. She has made it her mission to learn as much as possible about his condition so she can advocate for him. Caregivers don’t get the recognition that others do, yet play such a vital role in our patient community. She is an inspiration for caregivers around the globe.

Submitted by: Leslie Lake


Heide Bajnrauh: Advocate

A blood clot survivor and senior policy advisor at a Washington, DC lobbying firm, Heide has been instrumental in shepherding the National Blood Clot Alliance’s recent federal advocacy work.

As a pro bono client of her firm,  NBCA has benefitted greatly from Heide’s expertise. She guided the organization through the federal appropriations process and arranged meetings with more than 70 congressional offices to discuss the need for blood clot awareness and education.

In addition, Heide has generously volunteered her time to educate blood clot survivors on how to launch their own advocacy efforts, and she shared her personal story through NBCA’s educational events. 

Heide is passionate about advocating for blood clot awareness and education, and NBCA is lucky to have such a powerful partner. Heide is a VTE Shero whose advocacy work will continue to have a positive impact on lives for years to come.

Heather Dupaix: Blood Clot Patient, Advocate

As a woman who survived a PE after her doctor ignored her and told her it was “just heartburn,” my wife Heather Dupaix knew all the signs and symptoms because she lived them. However, when her 18-year-old sister fell ill, Heather begged her family to get immediate help. They took her to a doctor’s office instead, where she was checked for everything from COVID to hepatitis, but never thought to check her for a clot.

And so, three days later, Faith Pitts died, with my wife holding her hand.

The grief and PTSD my wife experienced after the loss of her baby sister was immense, but instead of crumbling, she became a phoenix and used this grief to launch a series of blood drives. She organized the first one literally within 30 days of her sister’s death. She does two drives per year, and her focus is always to educate everyone that donates on the signs and symptoms of a PE.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Cindy Stone: Caregiver

Not only is Cindy my best friend, but she’s a woman who has displayed compassion, empathy and extraordinary kindness. She was my outlet during my blood clot treatment process. We laughed, we cried, she listened and I got through it. I genuinely think without her my mental health would have declined rapidly.

When I think about that timeframe, I always see her face and her commitment to being right by my side. She shined her light when mine was dark. She gave me hope when I felt hopeless. Her light gave me the will to push forward. I will always be grateful for her, always.

Submitted by: Kristie Fox

Maricatherine Mullaney: Blood Clot Patient, Advocate

Maricatherine was diagnosed with an unprovoked PE in July 2009. Ever since then, she has made it her mission to spread awareness about the signs and symptoms of blood clots. She works closely with the National Blood Clot Alliance and other organizations.

Maricatherine had zero risk factors, so she is especially cognizant of the fact that blood clots can happen to anyone at anytime. She is happy to spread awareness, not only through her social media platforms, but also in the community. She is passionate about spreading awareness among her family, colleagues, and anyone who will listen.

Submitted by: Anonymous

Lisa Wells: Blood Clot Patient, Advocate

Lisa Wells is an administrator of the Facebook group “Blood Clots: Surviving a Silent Killer.” Every day, she posts uplifting messages of hope. She also gives Amazon gift cards to randomly chosen social media followers.

Lisa shares her lovely family with us so her presence feels so personal. I consider her a dear best friend whom I’ve never met.

Submitted by: Janice Hamilton

Maddy Studley: Blood Clot Patient

Maddy was diagnosed with an upper extremity DVT last year and is now fighting it off on blood thinners. She spent months in pain while doctors tried to come up with a diagnosis. An ultrasound tech, who was also a DVT survivor, recognized Maddy’s signs and symptoms and found the clot in her right arm.

Doctors are still determining the cause of the clot. It’s still the same size and in the same space it has always been, but Maddy is such a positive soul. She has severe fatigue often, and her period really messes with her and causes severe vertigo, but she keeps going.

Submitted by: Anonymous

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