In February 2017, Teresa Hamilton, 58, first experienced the frightening symptom that would end up saving her life.
"It was a massive pain in my throat," she says. "Like someone putting their hands around my neck and squeezing hard."
Over the next few weeks and months, Teresa's perplexing throat episodes increased in frequency, intensity and duration. She also noticed a pattern to the pain. If she sat for a prolonged period, then walked a few steps, the tightness returned.
She didn't realize how sick she was. "I just kept doing the next thing that needed to get done."
Her to-do list was extensive. Teresa co-owns the heating and cooling business she and her husband, Bob, started 36 years ago. She also runs a charitable organization called Giving the Basics that provides soap, shampoo and other hygiene products to more than 220,000 area residents every month. Plus, she is the mother of 12 children, ages 14-35.