Today, October 29, is World Stroke Day. Stroke is the #2 cause of death in the world (#4 in the US), yet the majority of strokes are preventable.
Before April 21, 2008, Jay and I knew nothing about strokes. Do you? My guess is no. When my life and recovery hung in the balance, you better believe we got pretty educated on it. The sad thing is that many people may not have the chance to understand what a stroke is before it takes their life or changes it forever.
My situation was pretty rare in that my stroke was not preventable (it was caused by an AVM which is a brain defect I had since birth but never had any real warning signs of until it ruptured), but 80% of strokes are preventable.
It seems there is a strange resistance, maybe even a subconscious one, that many of us have to encountering our health and our bodies, in particular stroke. Why don't we know more about the #2 killer of human beings in this world? I truly think it's reflective of the human condition; we don't want to engage the truth that our bodies and brains are not going to last forever, and just possibly, they might give out on us long before we ever thought they would. Just because we don't want to go there, doesn't mean we might not end up there anyway. Like any well-educated consumer, we should be informed, 1,000 x so, when it comes to our health and our bodies.
I'd be lying if I told you that I want to be the poster child for stroke awareness, though I do want to educate people about stroke prevention but even more so on the hope to be found if/when they experience a stroke or some other great suffering like it. In general, I have a deep desire to encourage people who are in hard situations. I long to use this tragedy in my life to bless/inform/inspire the lives of others, and I was recently given another really unique opportunity to do just that to a whole new audience.
Through a bizarre series of "coincidences", the American Stroke Association asked me to be a part of their new campaign to educate the public on the warning signs for having a stroke. This campaign uses the acronym F - A - S - T.
It was honestly kind of surreal getting to be on a set again. Several years ago, I was making a living in the entertainment industry, mostly doing commercial print modeling (think new mom products or catalogs), so it was kind of bittersweet to now be "modeling" for a very different reason. At the same time, I didn't think I would ever be modeling again after having facial paralysis, but there I was on set, in front of a camera, not to mention that this modeling job had a lot more meaning to it than most. It was another "life coming full circle" kind of moment, for which I am always grateful.
Along with the print campaign, which will appear in magazines nationwide, there will be a PSA ("Public Service Announcement") video that I will be in that will be shown on TV nationwide. I will link to the video when it debuts in a few weeks. The rough cuts I have seen are extremely good. Until then, take a moment to look around the American Stroke Association website on this day dedicated to educating the world on stroke. Who knows, it just might save your life...