Improve your health by being grateful. Gratitude helps people experience positive emotions, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
Unity Health Ambassador - Ticia Covington and family
Listening to our bodies can be a difficult lesson to learn, but Ticia Covington has accepted the importance of being in tune with what her body is telling her. In August 2010, at the age of 25, Ticia began her morning as usual, preparing for teaching and getting her family ready for the day. Attempting to put her contacts in, then requesting her glasses, she realized her vision was out of focus and she felt tingling in her arms and legs. Ticia’s husband, Reagan, was bringing her glasses to her when he found she had fallen into the doorframe. He sat her upright and knew something was out of order as her speech was slurred, her right side was unable to move, and her face was drooping.
Recognizing these symptoms, Reagan immediately rushed Ticia to the ER at Unity Health. Ticia explained she began to realize the intensity of the situation as she was wheeled in, bypassed triage and was admitted to a room upon their entrance. Unaware of how serious her circumstances were, Ticia said her greatest concern was getting back to school. “The scariest moment for me, and I know this sounds really small, was when I found out that I wasn’t going to make it back for half a day,” Ticia said. “Because this was my first year teaching, I kept telling my mom and my husband to call my principal and let him know I just needed half a day.” Her family quickly informed her she would not be able to make it back to school by lunchtime.
Ticia was diagnosed with an acute stroke to the left hemisphere. Through the Arkansas SAVES program, Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support, Ticia was viewed through video communication by Margaret Tremwel, M.D., at Sparks Regional Health System in Fort Smith, Ark. After the analysis, assessments revealed the need to administer the blood thinner tPA, tissue plasminogen activator. Reversing the effects of a stroke, this medication was given within the hour, halting the life-altering effects of the episode. She was the first patient to receive the medication at Unity Health, as the hospital had adopted the program earlier that year.
When Reagan received the news that his wife was to be transported by helicopter to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Ticia remembered him “falling apart” at the severity of the situation. “That rocked my world for an instant, but I have to say I was very childlike and extremely excited about riding in a helicopter,” Ticia said in an attempt to lift his spirits with her enthusiasm to fly.
The source of Ticia’s stroke was discovered to have been the oral contraceptive she was using for birth control. Her mission is to share with others the importance of health, knowing your body and being aware of the signs that something may be wrong. “I just hope that people will be in tune with their bodies and listen, “Ticia said. “Especially when we’re young, we like to brush off something. Fortunately for me, I had every stroke symptom possible. If something doesn’t feel right, have it checked out, because time is of the essence.”
Not only was Ticia’s physical being shaken by the stroke, but she also experienced a resurgence in her spiritual life. Always living in fear of what could happen, Ticia realized that through this event, God brought her through the stroke and back to full health. “I think God used the people at Unity Health and put me in the right place at the right time, because that was what I needed,” she said. “He used those people and the medicine to heal me and for that I am forever grateful to God and want to give him all the glory.”
In the years since her stroke, Ticia and Reagan have added another child to their number and are now a family of five. Their daughters Elliette and Sawyer and son Rooke are able to lead a life with their parents in Hickory Plains, where they enjoy a home complete with a 20-acre farm and their furry friends, Daisy, Maggie and Hoss. Their favorite pastimes include riding through the fields on their Ranger, swinging in the front yard, cooking meals, restoring furniture and building farmhouse tables.
“I realized that in life, anything and anybody is fair game, you never know from day to day what may happen and how your life may change,” Ticia said. “I am just so grateful for the opportunity to be here and raise my children, to play with them, and talk to them. My life could have changed so drastically and because of the grace of God it didn’t and I am getting to live life to the fullest.”
People often quote Philippians 4:13 as their favorite verse, but for Linda Ingram of Searcy, it’s more than a favorite passage. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is Linda’s anchor and sentiment for life.
In 2006, Linda realized something was wrong when she noticed a spot on her right breast that had been swollen for more than a month. No one wants to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but after an appointment with her physician and an ordered ultrasound and biopsy, her fear was confirmed. It was breast cancer, and it was quickly spreading.
With a diagnosis of HER2-positive breast cancer, an aggressive form, treatments started with four chemotherapy sessions three weeks apart at the Cancer Center of Excellence in Searcy.
“HER2-positive is a type of breast cancer that contains a protein that promotes cancer cell production,” Linda said. “With this form of cancer, the cells look like they have little fingers growing off of them, and if those little fingers break off, they can spread the cancer. With the first set of chemo treatment, I lost my hair, which was the most traumatic side effect for me because it was the most outward change. After chemo, I then had a mastectomy surgery taking out eight lymph glands, five being cancerous; followed by more chemo and radiation.”
Linda said looking back on the diagnosis and entire cancer battle, God took care of her the entire way.
“God was with me through it all,” Linda said. “When I found out I had cancer, my husband Gordan and I prayed about it. We felt like whatever happened was His will, and in return, God gave me peace. I can’t imagine having gone through this if I hadn’t had my faith to rely on.
“We lived in West Memphis before we moved to Searcy. So when I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after moving here, I thought I would go somewhere else for my treatment; however, several people recommended going to the Unity Health Oncology Clinic inside the Cancer Center of Excellence. Being so close to home made such a huge difference, and I feel like it was another way God took care of me.”
Through the support of church, her physical family and especially her husband Gordan, Linda received constant encouragement throughout the battle. Having received such support through her difficult time inspired her to find a way to bless others and give back. As a talented seamstress, Linda chooses to give through her volunteer work with the Gentle Hugs program at Unity Health by sewing and smocking baby gowns, tunics and baby bonnets for stillborn babies.
As a cancer survivor, she also embroiders “breast cancer angels” and “cancer angels” to encourage others going through the same battle. They are small tokens that Linda hopes remind people that others are praying for them through their difficult time.
“God lets you go through times, but He brings you through them. He strengthens your faith through those times,” Linda said. “I now look at everything differently and I’m more thankful for the little things in life.”
Linda Ingram is proud to share her story about the Cancer Center of Excellence through Unity Health’s Ambassador Program. If you have had a good experience at Unity Health and would like to share your health-centered story, please contact the Unity Health Marketing Department at 501. 278.3230 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about cancer treatments available at the Cancer Center of Excellence and Unity Health Oncology Clinic, please visit Unity-Health.org/cancer-center or call 501.278.3297.
Make quiet time to focus on spiritual health. Through her faith in God, along with an outstanding medical team at Unity Health, Linda rejoices that her cancer is in remission.
Fresh fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy. Choose a variety of colors and textures to maximize nutritional benefits.
“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul,” American botanist Luther Burbank once said.
For Juanita “Toy” Goodwin, gardening started as something to pass the time, but soon developed into a hobby that turned into a passion — a “medicine for the soul.”
“My favorite flowers are hydrangeas and tulips,” Goodwin said. “I like getting new plants that I’ve never had before and then researching them and learning how to take care of them. My mother, sister and aunts have always enjoyed doing something with flowers including gardening, and I’ve enjoyed it for many years; however, my knees had hurt for so long, I just wasn’t able to get out in my garden anymore.”
In May 2015, Goodwin required a full-knee replacement surgery, which was followed by three and half weeks of strict attention, focus and physical therapy at Unity Health – Orthopaedic and Spine Center. When she found out she would need therapy, she did not expect it to be an encouraging and positive experience, but before her surgery, she had given up simple activities that she had once enjoyed, such as spending time in her flower garden and walking her pet shih tzu. She wanted her life back.
Goodwin said the positive atmosphere in therapy helped renew her spirit in what would have been a challenging recovery time. With a full agenda of recovery and therapeutic treatment, she worked with physical therapists and staff to gain back the activities that had once brought her joy before her surgery. After only a few weeks of hard work, Goodwin said she felt like a completely new person.
“I not only felt like a new person — I was new,” Goodwin said. “Every step I made, everything I did, the therapy team was there for me. If I wanted to do less, they would push me a little further and they did it in such a way, it felt more like exercise than therapy. They would tell me how to do things at home and gave me a lot of encouragement. That is why I enjoyed my experience there. After therapy, I was able to plant two flower gardens with new bulbs and was absolutely amazed that I was able to do so much so soon after therapy.”
Now, she is able to enjoy the activities that make her happy and bring her joy — without the pain.
“It has given me a new life,” Goodwin said. “It hurt for years and it has been great to be able to do the simple things in life again like work outside in my flowerbeds and even just walk to the neighbors. What I am looking forward to now is having the ability to go to my grandson’s graduation without using a cane, and enjoy all the activities, like having my family home on that special day.”
Relieve stress by taking time to do what you love. After seeing excellent Physical Therapy results at Unity Health, Toy is able to pursue her passion of gardening.
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The goal of the Ambassadors of Unity Health Program is to educate and inspire our communities by sharing inspiration stories of health.
If you would like an Ambassador to speak at an event or meeting, please contact the Marketing Department by filling out this form. A representative will be in touch for additional information.