The Olympic legend has finally learned what’s behind her debilitating dizzy spells..
Much-loved athlete Raelene Boyle will miss her first Olympic Games in two decades to undergo lifesaving surgery this week following a major health scare.
The breast and ovarian cancer survivor reveals exclusively to Woman’s Day that she has lived a heartbeat away from death for the past 12 years.
“I was a walking time bomb. I could have had a stroke at any moment and yet until a few months ago, I had no idea of the black cloud I was under. It’s a very scary thing to look back on when you think of the consequences,” says Raelene, 61, who began to suffer heart-related dizzy spells – misdiagnosed as panic attacks – as far back as 2000.
“The attacks were awful, lasting up to 25 minutes, and I would go pale and black out unless I lay down – it didn’t matter if I was walking, driving, or sitting at home reading the paper. Because I’d had them so often I knew when and how to react, but sometimes it was embarrassing – once, in the middle of a walk, I had to stop and lie on the footpath, and this sweet lady stopped her car and wanted to drive me home!”
It was only last year that Raelene, who had travelled from her home on the Sunshine Coast to Adelaide for fellow Olympian Marjorie Jackson-Nelson’s 80th birthday, discovered the danger she was in. World-renowned cardiac specialist Professor Prash Sanders, at Royal Adelaide Hospital, identified the attacks as symptoms of her existing heart condition, atrial fibrillation with flutter – which she’d been told was under control after operations in 2002 and 2007.
He immediately put her on medication and recommended urgent ablation – an operation to correct the electrical impulses of her heart, after which she must remain flat on her back for three days, then recuperate for weeks.
Read more about Raelene's health scare in this week's Woman’s Day on sale Monday July 2, 2012.
Related video: Raelene Boyle discusses breast cancer.