Dr. Joy Lucas

Hope Plavin

On a Thursday evening in March 2015, Dr. Joy Lucas, owner of Upstate Animal Medical Center in Saratoga Springs, didn’t feel right. But she kept on about her business, working 12-hour days, taking her four-mile runs, and doing her intense workouts at the gym. The following Tuesday, after her chiropractor made her promise to go to the emergency department, she went home, kissed her animals, then went to the Glens Falls emergency room. She was diagnosed with a Type A Dissecting Aortic Aneurysm and told she would die without surgery.

Her request for a second opinion was answered with, “You move, you die.”

Lucas was taken by helicopter to Albany Med, where Dr. Louis Britton operated on her.

Hope Plavin is a senior consultant at Health Management Associates. Seven years ago, she was out for her regular Sunday run when she collapsed in a ditch. Luckily, a neighbor looked out his window, saw her fall and called 9-1-1. The healthy, 51-year-old had suffered a stroke. She was taken to Saratoga Hospital, then transferred to Albany Med, where Dr. Junichi Yamamoto put six platinum coils in her head to create a barrier where an aneurysm had burst, destroying vessels in her brain.

Plavin was at Albany Med for three weeks and spent six more months between home and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. She was on pain medication for months to combat the pressure and pain caused by the burst vessels.

“I’ve been told there is no reason I should be alive without disability,” Plavin said. “Every Christmas, I bring the neighbor who saved me a basket of goodies. I’m extremely fortunate.”

Lucas and Plavin are co-chairing the 2018 Go Red For Women Luncheon on May 24 at the Albany Marriott. They hope that their stories will encourage other women to pay attention to their symptoms and to their family history.

“I shouldn’t even be here,” Lucas said. “In the back of my mind, I thought something might be wrong with my heart. My father was 60 when he also died of a dissecting aortic aneurysm. I got my life back, and my mission now is to make sure other women with symptoms don’t ignore them like I did.”

“Like many, with 20/20 hindsight, I should have known I was at risk for a stroke,” Plavin said. “My mother dropped dead at 60 in a restroom. We didn’t have an autopsy done, but it was probably a stroke. I had no risk factors; it was all genetics. My brother and sister have been advised to get checked, and my 28-year-old son will also need to be checked when he is 40.”

Lucas, who shared her story at the 2017 Capital Region Heart Ball at the Hall of Springs, asked Plavin to co-chair the 2018 Go Red for Women Luncheon with her. The day she asked was a significant one for Plavin: It was the one-year anniversary of Plavin’s husband’s death from cancer.

“This is the world giving me the opportunity to give back,” Plavin said of her decision to co-chair.
Lucas is a native of Wellston, Ohio. Her undergraduate degree is from Ohio Dominican University and her DVM is from the University of Tennessee. She has owned Upstate Animal Medical Center since 2001. She has a strong interest in avian and exotic animals. She lives in Saratoga Springs and is a devoted Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Plavin worked at United Health Care and in several positions at the New York state Department of Health before joining Health Management Associates. She grew up in New York City. Her undergraduate degree is from SUNY Stony Brook, and she holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Rockefeller College, SUNY Albany, as well as a Master’s of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. She also has a certificate of completion for the Shaping Healthcare Delivery Policy Program, Health Care Delivery Science, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

For information about the 2018 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon, visit www.CapitalREgionNYGoRedLUncheon.heart.org or call 518.626.8754.

About the Go Red For Women Luncheon 

The 2018 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon is set for Thursday, May 24 at the Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Road, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be a Festival of Red that includes the Purse-Onality auction, an educational session, health screenings and information, followed by a heart-healthy lunch, the introduction of the BetterU, and survivor stories. Dr. Joy Lucas of Upstate Animal Medical Center, and Hope Plavin of Health Management Associates, are co-chairs of the Luncheon. Benita Zahn of WNYT NewsChannel 13 will emcee the Luncheon. Macy’s and CVS are national sponsors of the Go Red for Women movement. Albany Med is the American Heart Association’s Life is Why sponsor in the Capital Region. Local sponsors include Upstate Animal Medical Center, CDPHP, CAP COM, Price Chopper/Market 32, SEFCU and St. Peter’s Health Partners. Women@Work is the media sponsor of the BetterU. Other media sponsors re WNYT, B95.5, All Over Albany and the Albany Business Review. For information, contact 518.626.8754 or Sharon.Horton@heart.org.