FILMMAKER’S HEART ATTACK LEADS TO DOCUMENTARY DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
DURHAM – According to the American Heart Association, in the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. At the age of 32, local filmmaker, PreShus Lee had no idea that she would be counted in that number. As a coping mechanism, she began chronicling her journey to recovery which she ultimately turned into a short documentary.
The short documentary entitled, Chapter 32: From Tragedy to Triumph, features interviews with Lee’s close family and friends who were present during her recovery and captures a very transparent Lee during some of her darkest moments. Throughout the 12-month process, Lee was forced to take a deep assessment of her health and her family’s health history into combat future health scares.
“My biggest fear, at the time, was that I would die from a heart attack like my father and his parents who passed before him. The "Grayson Curse" as it was known in my family had passed down several generations and finally reached mine. I can't speak for my family's diagnosis, but for me, I believe my size was a big hindrance in discovering it,” said Lee. “I've always been plus-sized but rather healthy. However, when I started experiencing issues with high cholesterol, my doctors attributed it to my diet, and my weight. So, I cleaned up my diet, lost 80lbs and changed my lifestyle. It helped but still didn't protect me from the "curse". Upon experiencing it first hand, I realized that it wasn't a curse, but a genetic condition that should have been found and cared for since childhood.”
Ultimately, Lee was diagnosed with Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). FH is a genetic condition that affects how the body processes cholesterol. According to the FH Foundation, 1 in 250 adults suffer from this condition however 90% of the cases go undiagnosed. As a genetic condition that is inherited, screening siblings and children of a person diagnosed with FH is essential. The earlier the diagnosis the better and although diet and lifestyle changes are important to keep the heart healthy, medication may also be a necessary plan of treatment.
Lee hopes that with the release of the documentary it will inspire families to take the time to review their family health history and take preventative measures to fight generational health “curses”. “The narrative about Black women having to be strong for everyone else is true, but that strength comes at a cost. This so-called strength is killing us. We must know our family history, we must know our numbers, and most importantly, we must advocate for our health, both mind and body. We must get into the practice of putting our masks on first. What good is it to pour our lives into our work, and others if we're not here to see the fruits of our labor,” said Lee.
Chapter 32: From Tragedy to Triumph will premiere during American Heart Month at the 26th annual Hayti Heritage Film Festival on Friday, February 14 at 9:30 am. For more information on the documentary, please visit www.chapter32film.com.