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Second opinion keeps 86-year-old dancing

KEEGO HARBOR, Mich. – Joseph Kennedy, of Birmingham, started taking dance lessons nine years ago when he was 77. He was looking for something to lift his spirits.

"My wife passed. She was sick a long time, and after she passed, I was in a nursing home," said Kennedy. "I was looking for a place of happy people, and it dawned on me, there's probably happy people in a dance studio."

He signed up for 12 lessons at Loretta's Dance Boutique & Ballroom in Keego Harbor, and he was hooked.

He takes lessons with his teacher Izabela once a week and comes in to practice a couple days too.

"It takes practice," said Kennedy.

But last year, a health problem threatened to stop the music.

"I noticed in the last year, I couldn't walk very far," said Kennedy. "I could only walk about maybe 25 yards, and I'd want to sit down."

He was diagnosed with a heart problem called aortic stenosis.

"I went to this one hospital, and they wanted to slice and dice me, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to look around a little bit.'"

Kennedy says, he's always been a bit of a shopper.

"Your first deal is probably not your best deal," he said.

That turned out to be true for his heart too. Kennedy got a second opinion at the Ernst Cardiovascular Center at Beaumont, Royal Oak. Doctors there suggested a less invasive option called a TAVR.

"I was out of there, 23 hours or less," said Kennedy. "Really it wasn't any recovery time. I mean, first thing you know, I'm back in making Izabela sweat," he laughed. "I'm so indebted to them, and they know how to do it there. To them, it's just another day at the office. To me, it was a big deal. They know how to do it at the Beaumont Heart Center."

Kennedy says, don't be afraid to seek out a second opinion.

"A second opinion is very good. Nobody knows everything, you know, and no hospital does everything," said Kennedy.

And if you're looking for a lift, give dance lessons a try.

"You have to stay active. Dancing is such a great way to stay active," said Kennedy.