She had a stroke at 25. Now she has a message for other young stroke survivors.

Germaine Blakey was doing what she normally did on a Sunday morning. An active part of her church community, she was sitting in the pews when she began to feel unwell.

After turning the decision over in her mind, she decided to head home and asked her friend to meet her there. The next thing she remembers is being on a stretcher headed out her front door and into an ambulance. In 2005, when Blakey experienced the stroke that brought her home from church and straight to the hospital, she was just 25 years old.

“My cousin’s friend, who was my age at the time, had a stroke and passed away. I knew it could happen to young people,” said Blakey. “I was scared I wouldn’t survive, and if I did, what life would look like moving forward.”

Thankfully, today Blakey is doing well. Now, at 42 years of age, she wants to share her story with others to inspire them to live a full life.

“I really want people to let people know that they can still make it. If you experience health challenges, you can still do the things you want to do. This doesn’t have to mean your life is over.”

Women face a higher risk of stroke. In fact, one in five women will experience a stroke in their lifetime. Regardless of age, the American Heart Association urges all people to know the warning signs of a stroke so they can seek help immediately. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T.

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

Thankfully, Blakey’s friend was there to act quickly and get her the help she needed.

Today, Blakey is still an active member of her congregation. She leads the Youth Ministry at her church in the East End of Richmond where she has lived for nearly her entire life. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with her loved ones, including her daughter Toni.