Together, We Can End Stroke

By Parker Sanchez, Guest Blogger


Parker headshotSometimes we don’t see ourselves in the same way others see us. Standing outside of an operating room last August, with surgeons and nurses waving paperwork for me to sign in my face, I knew they were seeing the adult next-of-kin of their next patient. I was frozen to the spot, thinking, “But I’m just a kid! I can’t make these decisions without talking to my mom first!”

My Mom has always been my rock. She’s the most kind-hearted, selfless, intelligent, giving woman I know. She dedicated her adult life to nursing, and then to victim advocacy in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault. After retiring, she threw herself into helping care for my children – so much more than a babysitting grandmother, she essentially co-parented with my husband and myself. She’ll sit and talk through a problem with you for hours, at any time of day or night. Although she claims to not be artistic, she’s the type of woman who would find some discarded antique on the side of the road and turn it into a showpiece. Always a smart piece of advice, always a project, always on the go – I truly believed that she was invincible. I could never keep up with her energy and enthusiasm!

On that August afternoon, she and my dad were enjoying lunch when her words started to slur and she began losing balance. Even as she tried to convince him she was fine (and my dad usually listens to her!), Dad was recognizing the signs of stroke and on the phone starting the chain of survival. She was airlifted from one medical center to another, where she spent the next few days in the ICU, then eventually on to acute rehab, then subacute rehab before making it home just in time for Christmas.

Parker (left) with her mom and sister.

Parker (left) with her mom and sister.

It turns out Mom is invincible, just not in the way I had imagined. While I was standing there panicking about signing the surgical forms, my mom was making the decision to live. She’s been in incredible pain and faced incredible frustration. She’s faced setbacks and celebrated milestones. We’ve all had to grow up a lot. Mom no longer “takes care of it all” but our family and close friends have come together in a way that only can be celebrated. We’re making new traditions and finding new ways to do things we enjoy. Stroke can take away some things, but it can’t take away the power of love and family.


To learn more about how we can end stroke, visit

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.


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