When Marina speaks, she speaks with a sense of humility, gratitude and positivity – and a sense of responsibility. A responsibility to share her story and connect with other young women - to give herself and others a sense of awareness and hope for their future wellness.
It was at the age of 23 when Marina first became aware that something was seriously ‘not right’ with her body. What started as breathlessness and struggling with basic physical movement, developed into a continued sense of feeling tired and being generally unwell. Following medical investigations, Marina’s GP put her symptoms down to a chest infection and assured her that she’d be better soon. Marina’s mind was put at ease, but her symptoms continued. Finding it difficult to move or breath, she knew that something more serious was at play.
Returning to her GP, Marina was sent for a CT scan. Within an hour of the scan Marina was in hospital being treated for multiple pulmonary emboli - a circulatory system related form of cardiovascular disease. Marina was put on life-saving medication and, after 6 months of taking daily blood thinners, was given the all clear. Whilst there was some scarring on her lungs, the blood clots appeared to have completely dissolved.
Marina’s sense of elation was short lived as, only a few months later, she started to feel unwell again. This time, Marina wasted no time in having another scan. To her dismay, she discovered that her lungs were once again filled with multiple clots. Doctors also discovered that Marina was a carrier of multiple thrombophilic factors or 'blood clotting genes'. Marina was taking the contraceptive pill for less than 6 months before the clots were found, but her doctors believed that this in fact activated her underlying blood clotting genetic factors.
Marina was advised that short term blood thinning medication was no longer an option and that she would need to take Warfarin for the rest of her life.
"I live with my illness under control and I am grateful every day. If I can help stop one other young woman from experiencing a heart related illness, I will be eternally happy."
Six years later and with no further blood clotting issues, Marina is now an integral member of our Women and Heart Disease Working Group. Her ideas, energy and talent are helping to make other women aware of the risk factors, warning signs, symptoms and proactive prevention of heart disease.
A talented jewellery designer, Marina has crafted a heart inspired collection of jewellery in collaboration with the Heart Foundation, to help raise awareness and funds to assist the prevention, treatment and care of heart disease in Australian women.
You can purchase Marina’s heart inspired neck pieces at www.marinaantoniou.com or in store at Courtesy of the Artist, shop 122-124, Level 2 Strand Arcade 412-414 George Street Sydney 2000, with a percentage of sales going to the Heart Foundation.