By Madison Loethen
81‐year‐old Norma Long is the epitome of class. She is always dressed to the nines and never has a hair out of place. She is not one to complain, and she is always thinking of others before herself. All of this stayed true even in the midst of her health crisis.
Norma was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. She says the diagnosis came as a shock.
“I really felt fine when was diagnosed, maybe a little tired, but mostly fine. I couldn’t believe it,” says Norma.
At one point, Norma was told she may not make it another year. However, Norma and her doctors pursed an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan, and she was actually pronounced cancer free after 6 chemo treatments.
“Getting the news I was officially cancer free was such a relief. I felt I could finally relax,” says Norma.
Norma says the next few years were relatively uneventful. She and her husband Walt just enjoyed their retirement and spent a lot of time with their son Kevin, daughter‐in‐law Kristy, and grandkids Amanda and Kolton.
Then in 2016, Norma experienced an unexpected heart attack. She was referred to Boone Hospital Center by her cardiologist, Henry Marquez, MD. Dr. Marquez had been Norma’s cardiologist for years, and he practices out of the Missouri Heart Center office in Sedalia.
“All of my doctors and nurses were just wonderful. They were so comforting and explained everything that was going on,” says Norma.
Norma underwent cardiac catheterization and received several stents to allow blood to flow more freely to her heart. Shortly after her stents, she began having heart rhythm issues and underwent a procedure to upgrade her pacemaker.
“Dr. Marquez would call me the bionic woman while all of this was going on because I managed to feel pretty good and be pretty upbeat even though so much was going wrong with my heart,” says Norma.
Norma even became known for her lovely appearance during her hospital stays.
“I would get up early and do my hair and makeup before my doctors came in. I just wanted to look nice for them,” says Norma.
Norma’s failing aortic valve continued to be a concern and in late 2016, Norma’s doctors recommended that she undergo the transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR procedure.
TAVR is a minimally invasive surgery that repairs a heart valve by wedging a replacement valve into the failing aortic valve’s place. Unlike traditional valve replacements, this procedure is done with catheters. Because this surgery is minimally invasive, it requires less of a hospital stay and has less risk for major complications.
Norma’s procedure was done by Joss Fernandez, MD and Michael Brown, MD.
“Norma’s outlook on life is an inspiration to everyone. There are two types of people in this world those who look for happiness and those who make it. I am glad we were able to apply this valve technique to help Norma extend the quality of her life,” says Dr. Fernandez.
Norma says she was home in no time and is now feeling so much better. She and Walt stay busy spending time with family, going to services at their church, Flat Creek Baptist, and meeting and having coffee with friends at McDonalds.
“I am so grateful to be feeling better and enjoying life. I owe so much of that to my wonderful doctors and nurses,” says Norma.