Suffield resident Heidi Huhn Partain has always cared about helping others. It led her to a career in home health care, where she is the owner of BrightStar Care of Hartford, serving Suffield and area towns by providing quality home care, caregivers, and medical staffing solutions to families and businesses on a 24/7 basis. She is an active member and supporter of the Suffield Rotary and volunteers her time to Survivor Journeys®, a local group that provides free social and emotional support services to cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers. Some Suffield children also may know Ms. Huhn Partain as their CCD teacher. All of this while raising two teenage daughters, Cici and Veronica.
Already with a full plate Heidi received shocking news in early 2015. A non-smoker in her early forties, seemingly in good health, Heidi had to miss work for a few days with what seemed to be a typical chest cold. Fortunately, as a health care provider, to protect elderly clients her own company’s policies required that any provider absent due to an infectious disease (like pneumonia) needed medical clearance to return to work, so it was clear that the provider would not pose a risk. As part of that routine process Heidi went to a local clinic, where a chest X-ray led to the shocking discovery –a tumor in her left lung. As is her wont, she confronted the matter head-on, with surgery (resulting in removal of the entire lower lobe of her left lung), chemotherapy and a positive attitude. She will be cancer-free for two years this summer.
However that is just the beginning, not the end, of this story. Heidi dove into the matter and learned that lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer in America. Surprisingly to some, it is also the number one cause of cancer deaths for women, and is on the rise. Sadly, one woman dies from lung cancer every eight minutes. Moreover, while early detection (as was fortuitously the case with Heidi) greatly enhances the chance for survival, only 18% of lung cancer cases amongst women are diagnosed early.
Anxious to spread the word about the importance of early detection Heidi began to regularly participate in events with the American Lung Association (ALA), including the Fight for Air Climb Hartford and Turquoise & Tapas which are both fundraisers for the ALA. LUNG FORCE, also part of the ALA, is dedicated to helping everyone touched by lung cancer, and has been running walks to spread awareness and raise funds for research. Certain individuals are justly heralded as LUNG FORCE HEROES, for their courage and willingness to educate others. On June 4 the ALA held its first area LUNG FORCE Walk in Hartford, with its opening ceremonies highlighted by a talk from the LUNG FORCE hero from Suffield, Heidi Huhn Partain, recounting her own story and educating others about early detection. By all accounts the walk was a success, and our thanks and continuing prayers go out to Suffield’s Heidi Huhn Partain.