Personal Stories

Our Real Experiences Have the Greatest Impact.

Of all the educational tools and techniques available to us, the personal stories of women who have been impacted by blood clots are the most successful in helping people to connect with the issues and understand the risks associated with hormonal birth control.

We will be sharing a number of these compelling stories with you in the upcoming year, beginning with that of our organization’s namesake Alexandra Rowan.

Rachel Headshot


As a healthy, nonsmoking, 24-year-old woman, you don’t expect chest and leg pain to mean blood clots. I had been on hormonal birth control since my early teens.

Over the years I had frequent migraines, and in response my doctors increased my pill to types with even more estrogen.

In 2019, I had a severe Charlie horse in my left leg for a few weeks. One evening my chest started aching, then a shooting pain in my leg and my heart started racing. I took a shower and went to bed, thinking it was anxiety. The next morning I was sweating and couldn’t catch my breath as I got ready and arrived to work.

When I got to the ER the doctor said I was “lucky to be there.”

After numerous follow up appointments, my doctors will not pinpoint a “smoking gun” cause of my deep vein thrombosis (DVT, blood clot in leg) and bilateral pulmonary embolism (PE, blood clot in lung). Now that I am off hormonal birth control I feel better, and I immediately stopped having migraines and gaining weight.

If only someone had explained the risks of hormonal birth control, as well as the symptoms of blood clots.

Alex Rowan
Alex Release Photo

Alexandra Rowan

With endless possibilities for a bright future, 23-year-old Alexandra Rowan, a University of Pittsburgh graduate with a double major in writing and communications, had what many young women just starting a new life dream about: A blossoming new career in a bustling and hip city, a loving family, a devoted boyfriend, a growing circle of friends, and an independent spirit that compelled her to travel and explore the wonders of the world all around her.

Sadly, however, Alexandra’s life ended suddenly, when she collapsed due to a massive pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, that had formed in her lung. Without warning the life of this beautiful young woman had ended, without any clear signal or advance warning that something was wrong.

Alexandra’s only known risk factor for blood clots was estrogen-based birth control.