Sentara heart patients find love and longevity in Ornish Medicine Program

Posted at 3:41 PM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-14 20:22:34-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A hospital -- not a likely place you expect to find the perfect mate. But on this Valentine's Day, we have a story of how two heart patients became heartstruck themselves.

"I think we were destined to meet, and we speak about it often," said Marjorie Moss.

In late 2018, Moss, a nurse, was walking her dog when she started to experience chest pains. She made an appointment with her doctor and found out that she had stable angina.

"It startled me. I only have one heart, so I need to take care of it," said Moss.

One day, she was heading to her doctor at Sentara Princess Anne when she accidentally walked into the classroom for the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program.

"I went back to my doctor and said, 'What is this Ornish program? Can I go?'" she said.

Ornish has a documented record of reversing heart disease.

"I liken it to a four-legged stool: It is exercise, how you eat, how you manage stress and the support system you have in your life," said Sharon Henley, Program Director.

64-year-old Bryn Scola had also just enrolled in the nine-week program.

"I had a heart attack in 2018. That landed me in the Ornish program," said Scola.

He had already had one heart attack in 2002, six stents put in and a bypass operation - all within 15 years.

"She was the last one to make it in that day. When she walked in, I was like, 'My, oh my!'" said Scola.

Moss, who also landed in the program, said she thought Scola was "a bit loud" during their first classroom day.

The program focuses heavily on a plant-based diet to help reverse heart disease.

"Think of it like heart therapy after your physician has given you a diagnosis," said Henley.

"When I first heard I couldn't eat meat, fish, chicken or poultry, I said, 'They are nuts. This is crazy.' But then it started to work," said Scola.

What was also working was a bond between the heart patients.

"We just started confiding in each other. We were great supports in and out of the classroom," said Moss. "We would grocery shop together, garden together and exercise together."

The couple, who were both divorced and not actually looking for love, seemed to have found the pulse.

"I started to lean in to him," said Moss.

"Well, I started to lean back," Scola laughed.

A newfound love thanks to a program -- the only one offered in the Commonwealth - that not only brought a lifestyle change, but also a life partner.

"This program saved our lives," said Moss