Lisa was just 21 years old, about to graduate from American University, when she had her first stroke.
She had all the signs and symptoms of a stroke but did not realize that stroke could happen to an athletic, healthy girl like her. The first local hospital she went to sent her home with a migraine. It was at her second hospital visit that the stroke signs were recognized and she was told that she was suffering a stroke. She was shocked.
Lisa went through rehabilitation that summer and started her first job, but just six months later, she suffered a second stroke and was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. Grueling treatment began and lasted four years. Recovery and side effects were plentiful and she suffered a third stroke. Fortunately, she was declared in remission in 2001. This was her story for 14 years.
She didn't let stroke define her but instead became involved as a volunteer with the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. Then, in March 2015, Lisa’s left side went numb. She wasn't too concerned at first, as it could have been residual damage from her initial strokes. But it lasted four days and the numbness and weakness was getting worse, so she decided to go to the hospital. She was shocked when the doctors told her that she was having a fourth stroke and a new diagnosis of Moyamoya disease.
There is no cure for Moyamoya disease. Left untreated, Moyamoya disease will continue to cause strokes and can eventually prove fatal. However the recommended treatment is surgery. Lisa found out that she needed brain surgery…two bypass brain surgeries, in fact…to treat her Moyamoya disease. A year and a half post-op, with seven times the amount of blood on both sides of her brain, the surgeries were successful!
Lisa shares her story to educate others that stroke can happen to anyone. She knows she is blessed to have survived and even thrived after four strokes. She advocates for Massachusetts to have improved systems of care in place so all residents’ lives can be saved. If we pass legislation that will designate the best medical centers to treat stroke and ensure that care is delivered as promptly as possible, we can save lives by providing stroke patients with seamless transitions from one stage of care to the next. She fights because she believes we have a great opportunity available to make our Commonwealth a leader in stroke care.