The friends and family of Carmen Rye Thomas have organized the “Carmen’s Cause” festival to celebrate her brief 37 years of life and spread awareness of the deadly disorder which cut that life short in October 2016.
The event is scheduled for Sunday, August 26, at the Vinton Farmers’ Market. Organizer Sherry Wampler said that Thomas was married with a young son and “laughed and smiled all the time. She was an angel– a thoughtful, sweet person who would always do her best to help someone if she could.” Carmen’s husband, Brian, is Wampler’s nephew. Her passing was completely unexpected. She attended a family wedding on October 1 with no health complaints of any kind. Later that week she experienced trouble breathing and passed away suddenly at home on October 8 from blood clots in her lungs. Wampler said Thomas had no idea of the severity of the problem she was experiencing. “We want to keep other families from being devastated like we are,” said Wampler in discussing the planned benefit. Thomas and her husband lived in Moneta with their son Connor.
Her parents live just outside Vinton. Organizers picked Vinton as the venue for the Carmen’s Cause event through the efforts of Vinton Special Programs Director Mary Beth Layman. Wampler wanted to do something to educate the public and to raise funds. She contacted the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) association to discuss the best possible type of event to remember Carmen— one that would include activities, crafts, and bands that Carmen would have enjoyed herself. They considered the Vinton War Memorial, but Layman said that she had a Sunday afternoon available at the Vinton Farmers’ Market on August 26. Since Carmen’s birthday was on August 25 and her favorite season was Fall, that seemed like the perfect choice and the market, the “perfect spot.” The festival will run from noon to 6 p.m. with no admission charge. There will be over 30 craft vendors, including Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, Rustic Creations, It Works, Baby Got Bows, LuLaRoe, Plexus, Premier Jewelry, Paparazzi, Pink Zebra, Creative Signs, Color Street, Thirty-one Gifts, Soap and Stuff, Gigi Ceramics, Lips and Lashes, Body Essentials, Aloette, and more, with handmade crafts as well. There will be lots of food from Master Sergeant BBQ, the Dojo Grill, Deb’s Lemonade, and Cool Blue Ice Cream. Blue Collar Band and Guitar Dojo will be performing, along with the Art in Motion Dance Center. For the kids, there will be face painting and sand art, along with a minipetting zoo from Exotics and Aquatics from 1 to 3 p.m. with free goldfish coupons. There will be a photo booth for pictures with props or your pets— printed on the spot for $10. Wampler said organizers have been busy putting together over 30 gift baskets to be raffled off that include dinner at Hotel Roanoke, tickets to see the Rail Yard Dawgs, a cruise on the Virginia Dare at Smith Mountain Lake, tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, an autographed helmet from Denny Hamlin, tickets to Luray Caverns, a night’s stay at Hampton Inn, a golf outing to Alpine Lake Resort, gift cards, and a massage from Healing Thistle.
There will be a 50/50 raffle as well. An awareness booth will distribute information on preventing blood clot disorders and recognizing the symptoms. It is estimated that annually in the United States between 100,000 and 300,000 individuals die of blood clotrelated disorders such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)— more than the number who die from AIDS, breast cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined. On average, 274 people die from blood clots each day, one every six minutes. Each year approximately 600,000 nonfatal cases of deadly blood clots occur. The NBCA is “the leading non-profit in the country focused singularly on building awareness and building community among people who are affected by blood clots or at increased risk for them, including those with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation, cancer, traumatic injury, and risks related to hospitalization and surgery, lengthy immobility, child birth, and hormonal birth control.” The website emphasizes that “blood clots do not discriminate.
They can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or physical condition. However, they can be prevented.” According to www.stoptheclot.org, common risk factors for developing blood clots include: • Hospitalization for illness or surgery • Major surgery, particularly of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee • Severe trauma, such as a car accident • Injury to a vein that may have been caused by a broken bone or severe muscle injury • Hip or knee replacement surgery • Cancer and cancer treatments • Use of birth control methods that contain estrogen, such as the pill, patch, or ring • Pregnancy, which includes up to three months after the baby is born • The use of hormone therapy that contains estrogen • A family history of blood clots • Obesity • Confinement to bed • Sitting too long, especially with legs crossed Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body, usually in the legs, but sometimes in the arms. Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis include: • Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm) • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or “Charley horse” • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration • Leg (or arm) warm to touch Symptoms of a blood clot may feel like a pulled muscle except for the swelling, possible discoloration, and feeling of warmth. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately.
Pulmonary Embolism occurs when clots break off and travel to the lung and can be fatal. Signs and symptoms of PE include: • Sudden shortness of breath • Chest pain– sharp and stabbing, which may get worse with deep breath • Rapid heart rate • Fainting or passing out • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus Anyone experiencing these symptoms is urged to call 911 immediately. The NBCA says the most important thing in preventing blood clots is knowing if you are at risk. Wampler knows from experience. She suffered a minor stroke that led to discovery of a blood clot in her brain. She is now on blood thinners. The prevention and treatment of blood clots primarily involves the use of anticoagulant medications commonly referred to, “blood thinners.” While these medications do not actually “thin” the blood, they do slow the body’s ability to form new clots and keep existing clots from getting bigger. The NBCA says it is important to know your family history, to take steps to prevent clots if you will be confined to bed, to get up and move if you need to sit for a long time while traveling by plane, train, or car (especially more than four hours), to maintain a healthy weight, and “don’t smoke.”
Many people think blood clots affect mainly the elderly and infirm, but athletes are also at risk of DVT and PE. Healthcare providers may misinterpret leg symptoms as a muscle tear, a twisted ankle, or shin splints. Chest symptoms are often attributed to a pulled muscle, bronchitis, asthma, or pneumonia. Blood clot risk factors specific to athletes include: • Traveling long distances to events • Dehydration • Significant trauma • Immobilization (brace or cast) • Bone fracture or major surgery Stop by the Vinton Farmers’ Market on August 26 to celebrate Carmen’s life and “Stop the Clot; Spread the Word.” Donations may be made online at www. stoptheclot.org.