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Katrina’s run to help beat heart disease

Saturday, 10th August, 2019

Former Hillite Katrina Umback, on her mission to raise awareness of heart disease and honour her husband Scott (in picture frame) after he passed away from it earlier this year. PICTURE: Mildura Weekly/photographer Paul Mensch Former Hillite Katrina Umback, on her mission to raise awareness of heart disease and honour her husband Scott (in picture frame) after he passed away from it earlier this year. PICTURE: Mildura Weekly/photographer Paul Mensch

By Callum Marshall

Former Hillite Katrina Umback is on a mission to raise awareness of heart disease and is drawing inspiration from her late husband Scott Umback

On Australia Day this year, Scott tragically passed away after suffering a heart attack whilst working out at home.

He was taken to Mildura Base Hospital’s emergency department soon after the heart attack, but went into cardiac arrest on arrival where he couldn’t be revived. He had had a blocked artery that he wasn’t aware of. 

The sudden loss devastated the family and left Katrina as the sole parent of her two young boys.

But it also galvanised her into taking action against heart disease, finding out more about it and what she could do to help highlight its devastating impacts.

“(Scott’s death) really made me ask questions and I found out that heart disease is the biggest killer of Australians. It kills 51 Australians each day,” said Katrina.

“Someone every 28 minutes dies from some form of heart disease.

“A lot of people think that it’s an old man’s disease but it doesn’t discriminate. It can effect young, old, rich, poor, male, female. It can strike at any time.

“And I just want to raise the profile of this health issue particularly in my area of Mildura and in Broken Hill.”

Katrina said she’d become very invested in the work of the Heart Foundation, their research and the ways in which they were looking to raise awareness of heart disease.

“One of the big things that they’ve done over recent times is that they’ve lobbied federal government to fund regular heart health checks,” she said.

“So every Australian can go to their doctor and have a heart health check to identify their risks for heart disease and it’s fully funded by Medicare. And that only happened this year.

“Trying to get people into the habit of every year going to their doctor and talking about their risks of heart disease.”

Wanting to play her part, as well as looking to honour Scott, Katrina said she’d signed on to the Melbourne Half-Marathon in October to help raise much needed funds for the foundation.

“Scott loved running, it was his form of meditation,” she said.

“And I wanted to raise awareness of (heart disease.) 

“So I selected the Melbourne Marathon because Scott had run two full marathons and the Heart Foundation have a connection with it, (with the marathon) helping raise money to keep funding their research and awareness campaigns.

“I’ve committed to running 21.1 kilometres on the 13th of October.  And running’s not natural for me, Scott was the runner in the family.

“But if it’ll shine a spotlight on heart disease and help raise money then I’m prepared to do it.”

As part of her mission to raise awareness of heart disease, Katrina is also pushing for an angiogram service/’Cath Lab’ (cardiac catheterization) to be established in Mildura, but which would also benefit the wider region.

“The ultimate dream is to see an angiogram service established here in Mildura, which detects blockages in our arteries before someone actually has a heart attack,” she said.

“And I think about it in terms of the remote communities that surround Mildura, we’re all faced with the same problems but we’re all so close to each other.

“We’re so isolated and remote from anywhere else that if you don’t get access to appropriate health care quickly it further increases those risks of dying from heart disease.

“So if we could have an angiogram service...come to Mildura (that’d be great) because (of how) accessible (it would be for people across the region.)

Katrina had also received help from her local member Ali Cupper in highlighting the issue.

“I’m trying to collaborate with our key ministers in the region here in the region,” she said.

“So obviously Ali (Cupper as) our state member and Dr Anne Webster as our federal member.

“Ali has organised for me to have a conversation with the Victorian Health Minister to tell them my experience and what I’m campaigning for and if we get this service to Mildura.

“She was really great in trying to support what I’m trying to do for the community and the wider community.”

With Katrina hoping to raise $5000 for the Heart Foundation before her run in October, she’s called on the Broken Hill community to contribute to the cause and support her, just as they did earlier this year.

“When Scott passed away, not just my family and friends in Mildura, but my first family and friends back in Broken Hill were really kind to me and my family,” she said.

“(And while) I’m certainly doing this for my current home of Mildura, (it’s also) particularly for my home town of Broken Hill because it was so good to us.

“It gave us a great start in life.

“And a lot of people will still remember Scott. 

“He was born and bred in Broken Hill and played for North Football Club. His family was quite well known.

“He was the manager of the YMCA, and we actually came home for the grand opening for it for five years (ago.)

“He was only 42 and I’m only 40 and I’m a single mum with two kids.

“And we just don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

“So really know your family history and the risks and go and get checked. It’s really simple.”

A long-time family friend would also be joining the run, said Katrina.

“A great mate back home in Broken Hill, Simeon Kloczko, has registered to run the half-marathon with me,” she said.

“He went to university with Scott and ended up getting placed out in Broken Hill as a school teacher.

“And he’s been there for donkey’s years now.

“So it’ll be really special to run it with our best friend.”

If you would like to donate to Katrina’s cause, visit the Melbourne Marathon website and search for her name under the ‘Fundraiser Search’ tab.   

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