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A Journey to Recovery and Achieving Better Health

Anjavé Barnes Shares her AVM Health Journey

A Journey to Recovery and Achieving Better Health…

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

As a 38-year-old minority woman I have long understood the healthcare disparities that exist and the profound impact they have on my community and my family. My family includes a broad range of ethnic groups and age groups and within my home we find we have varying needs that have to be addressed differently. As we celebrate Minority Health Month it occurred to me that this is the perfect opportunity to encourage others through my experience and journey with health education and healing.

Better Health Through Better Understanding 

Full transparency, before a major health crisis in February 2020, while I took caring for myself seriously and went to my doctor regularly for my yearly exams, I was not educating myself in areas that are relevant to me for my long-term health goals. I have long understood the importance of daily activity and regular exercise, but paying attention to risk factors and reviewing my medical reports for understanding was just not a thing. That is until I woke up with a underlying condition, an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). That morning my life and my desire to better understand my health and what things I could do to improve and thrive were forever changed.

Better Health Through Sharing Experience

The saying “it’s only rare until it happens to you” is a phrase that is commonly used in my special community. Never could I have imagined that I was living with a tangle of vessels in my brain that could rupture at any moment, and that morning that’s what happened. They ruptured, and for me and my family it was the scariest day of our lives.

Later that morning I was rushed to the hospital with what was thought to be a stroke but after further imaging they discovered the AVM and that I would need an emergency craniotomy within hours or else… Fast-forwarding I will start by saying I survived and while my road to full recovery is not an easy one, some of the most valuable lessons I have learned along the way have been:

  • Education is everything

  • Sharing Helps. 

  • Ask Questions. Get Understanding.

  • Bring Awareness to Our Unique Needs. Tell Our Stories


Minority Health Month Infographic


Better Health Through Understanding the Facts

  • African American patients are 2x as likely to have a stroke and 3x more likely to die from pregnancy related complication than white non-Hispanic patients.
  • Hispanic patients are 63% more likely to be diabetic and have the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group within the U.S.
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native patients are 40% percent more likely to have heart disease and have an infant death rate 60% higher than white non-Hispanic patients.
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander patients are 76% more likely to be obese, while Asian American and Pacific Islander men are 58% more likely to die from liver cancer than white non-Hispanic patients.  

Source: Laerdal Health

Sharing What I've Learned Along the Way

Through my experience and wanting to further educate myself on the unique health needs and risks factors I face as a minority woman I have learned there was so much I didn’t know and so many things I was not doing. Sharing my story with others, having difficult conversations about minority health needs is a benefit to all.

When asking the tough questions and getting a better understanding of things like diet, exercise, and supplements I am helping to grow the conversation around risk factors that are more prevalent in certain communities. We can raise awareness about disparities and educate all minority groups about our unique needs by telling our stories. I hope that you are encouraged to share and tell us about your health journey and what you have discovered so that more conversations about our distinctive needs can take place. 

What I've Done and What You Can Do

As I tell my story, I am often asked what I am doing now. In addition to changing my diet, and trying to get my recommended fruit, vegetable, and water intake each day I have greatly increased my daily activity. Walks, home workouts, swimming and whatever else I can do to be active is a must. Chasing a one-year-old around also helps a lot with these activity goals.

Additionally, as I am still in recovery and have several lingering deficits as a person with disabilities, I participate in physical therapy throughout the week both in a medical facility and at home. I take my vitamins and have researched and use several healthy natural shakes as a fun substitute for sugary alternatives. Talking to your doctor and knowing where you stand with your blood pressure, heart health, weight, cholesterol and all the key things that keep you going strong is one of the best things you can do.

Once you know those details, working with your doctor to create a plan of action right for your needs is the next step. I would love to hear from you and learn how you are currently staying active, taking care of your health needs, and reaching your health goals!

Share Your Story and help help inspire others


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