Ruby Foster is an advocate for — and supporter of women — with heart disease. She knows a thing or two about it; she’s a 10-time stroke survivor and has a family history of the disease. Q: Can you tell me about the message you convey to women when doing advocacy work? A: I just want women to know they need to be aware of what’s happening to their bodies and to be more of a part of their own cure … be more active in exercise programs, their diets, being aware of how bad smoking is … Go to the doctor and listen to what your body is telling you and not to avoid (it) just because you’re afraid of what you might find out .… It’s better just to address it head on, to correct something if they do find something that is wrong rather than not knowing … Listen to your body and to take action to correct and to change things that may be going in the wrong direction to more of a healthier lifestyle … The earlier we can start things the better it is for ourselves. Q: You went to speak to Congress with the American Heart Association in April. What was that like? A: It gave (me) a feeling of being empowered … to be able to see someone face-to-face in a position to make a difference, in a position to make it the law, that we’re able to change it. It felt like it gave me some of the power back … that I was in maybe a position to make my voice heard and the voice of others … that we’re not just sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to happen … that we were right in there doing something positive … It gave me the opportunity to talk to people who could make my life better and the lives of those (who) are not able to go to Congress, not able to go to work, to make their voices heard so that they would have a better life. Q: You’re also a co-leader of a local support group. What do you do there? A: We are able to contact those (who) live with heart disease every day and to get different messages to them, different support to them. Maybe they’re busy working every day, they have families and a house to take care of (and) they don’t have that support. They don’t have someone who is going through the same health things that they are going through themselves and this is the way that we kind of help them to relieve some of the stress that they’re running into every day. So it’s important that they have this outlet and someone they can reach out to who will understand what they’re feeling, what they’re going through every day and how difficult it is just to keep going.