It was only after Susan Pagones’ mother passed away suddenly from heart disease that the family found clues that might have alerted them that she had been having heart issues.
“It was 22 years ago, and I still get choked up talking about it,” Pagones said. “She was only 57 years old. She used to watch her grandchildren every Tuesday, but this Tuesday she was helping my father run the Norm Schofield scholarship golf tournament, in memory of Norm who ironically passed from heart disease. Some of the symptoms we know now were connected to heart disease were that she was really tired, and had had a lot of heartburn. We found a lot of antacids in her medicine cabinet after she passed away. Back in the day, we didn’t realize that those were signs of heart disease in women.”
Pagones, partner of Antalek & Moore Insurance Agency in Beacon, is now 53, and when she recently experienced chest pain and numbness on her left side, she didn’t hesitate. The chair of the 2020 Go Red for Women Luncheon went right to her husband, Timothy, and asked him to take her to the emergency department. She is waiting for results.
“If it’s nothing, that’s fine,” she said. “But I don’t think I would have gotten my husband and gone to the ER before I was part of the Go Red for Women movement. I would have worried that I would be embarrassed. That’s a mindset we women need to get out of.”
Denise Doring VanBuren, now retired from Central Hudson Gas & Electric, chaired the 2019 Dutchess-Ulster Go Red for Women movement, and invited Pagones to be part of her Executive Leadership Team. Pagones also joined the 2019 BetterU, a 12-week heart-health improvement program. She shared her mother’s story during the Luncheon itself, and now is leading the 2020 Go Red for Women campaign, which has taken a different turn in this COVID era.
The 2020 Dutchess-Ulster Go Red for Women Luncheon will be a digital experience on Thursday, Nov. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon. Participants can register at DutchessUlsterGoRed.heart.org, and a Zoom link will be sent to them. They can also follow the Facebook event page for updates, https://www.facebook.com/events/695557514363882/.
“We need to hold this event now more than ever,” Pagones said. “COVID has had an effect on all of us. My 12 weeks in the BetterU were some of the best 12 weeks of my life, to have people pushing us to be healthier, and all of us working together for the same purpose. I learned a lot about cooking, the grocery store, and going to the gym. COVID had slowed me down, but I’ve joined the Go Red Get Fit Facebook page, and someone wrote something about COVID that expressed exactly how I feel. COVID put things in perspective. It has made me think about what I want to do, and the need to get myself out there, walking, exercising and being mindful of everything.”
COVID-19 has also affected Pagones’ work life, as small businesses have been reassessing their insurance coverage.
“I’ve done a lot of research and have been involved with the Chamber,” Pagones said. “We’re working with our clients now on ways to save money so we can all hold steady.”
Just as she is supporting the fight against heart disease in women, Pagones is supporting local businesses.
“I’m a stickler for shopping local,” she said. “When restaurants were doing takeout, we got food from a different restaurant each week.”
Pagones started working at Antalek & Moore Insurance Agency, LLC, the business her father owned, when she was 22. Ten years ago, she took it over, and now owns it with a partner.
“It’s a great family business on Main Street in Beacon,” Pagones aid. “We grew up together, and I love that we all know each other.”
Pagones is from Beacon, got her B.S. from SUNY Brockport, and after getting her insurance license, started working at Antalek & Moore in 1989. She and her husband, also a Beacon native, have five children and three grandchildren between them.
Now, Pagones is encouraging women to make time for the Go Red for Women Luncheon, and learn about the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women.
“Our survivor speaker is Golda Black, and her story – well, I’m a crier, and it really got me. When you hear all the stories of people living with heart disease, it’s hard to imagine,” she said. “That’s why I share my mother’s story, which I started doing last year. When I joined the committee, it became a passion to get everyone educated. Heart disease can happen to anybody. Women should be part of this because of what I went through, and am still going through. I want everyone to recognize the warning signs, and not be embarrassed. There are more issues around COVID and that makes our mission more important now than ever. If you’re not taking care of yourself, who are you helping?”
“Susan brings a passion and warmth to the Go Red for Women movement that draws people in,” said Melissa Hanigan, manager of patient registration/office manager of specialty service at Ellenville Regional Hospital, and chair of the Hudson Valley Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “She shares her story and is committed to educating women. I know we will have a very successful event with her at the helm. We’re honored that she stepped up to lead this event.”
Pagones is joined by an Executive Leadership team. Its members are: Kim Kenyon, Susan Howell, Maureen Kangas, Barbara Ostrander, Carol Schmitz, Elizabeth Donohue, Melissa Hanigan, Tricia Mood, Sonia Kesselmark, SharonDiCarlo, Denise Doring VanBuren & Debbie DiRubbio.
About the Dutchess-Ulster Go Red for Women Luncheon
The 2020 Dutchess-Ulster Go Red for Women Luncheon will be a digital experience on Thursday, Nov. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon. Susan Pagones of Antalek & Moore Insurance Agency, LLC is chairing the Luncheon. Golda Black will share her story of living with heart disease. Anne and Ryan from Q92.1 will emcee the event. CVS Healthcare is the national sponsor of the Go Red for Women movement. Local sponsors include Nuvance Health, Antalek & Moore Insurance Agency, LLC, Central Hudson Gas & Electric and Tompkins Mahopac Bank. Media sponsors are Hudson Valley Magazine and Q 92.1. For information or to register, visit DutchessUlsterGoRed.Heart.org or contact Danielle.Schuka@heart.org.