A Ribbon-less Holiday: World Stroke Day

89759 (1)During the entire month of October, the color pink has been splashed everywhere. City lights, donation canisters at cash registers, and the plethora of products that are branded as ‘breast cancer awareness’ have made it impossible for anyone not to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. At an event I attended this month, the speaker asked all those who have survived breast cancer to stand while the audience applauded. No doubt- these women are survivors. However, October is also a time to raise awareness for another severe health crisis.

You probably didn’t know that every 40 seconds, an American has a stroke, equaling 795,000 victims each year. Or that that October 29 is World Stroke Day.

According to the American Heart Association, the acronym F.A.S.T. is an easy way to recognize stroke symptoms: Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Dial 9-1-1. Chances are that if I went up to people on the street, most would be unable to identify stroke symptoms, but all would be able to share the importance breast examinations. Continue reading

How a Little Boy with a Broken Heart Taught Me How to Feel Again

Originally seen on Literally Darling. Published 9/11/2014

163538_10151415604683598_2092031067_n (1)How did a 7-year old little boy from Tennessee with a broken heart (literally) come into the life of a workaholic, childless, 24-year-old from Philadelphia? Two years later, I’m still trying to sort that out myself.

While working as a multimedia producer at a healthcare organization in 2012, I filmed a lot of sad stories. People sat down in front of my camera and shared their struggles. But one particular story struck a chord. Continue reading

Throwing Warm and Fuzzy out the Window

As seen on Huffington Post, published on 05/14/2013

IMG_2288While browsing the card aisle trying to pick out a card for my mother on her special holiday, I began to feel overwhelmed. Most of the cards spouted messages of thanks for always being there, for always showing the right path in life while being an amazing role model. As nice as the inscriptions were, they did not portray the relationship I have with my own mother.

The sentiments seemed more appropriate for the maternal figures portrayed in televisions shows — the flawless ones that always seem to make the right decisions and can fix everything in under an hour. All of the messaging seemed to sugarcoat the intense, strong but complex love I have for my her. My mother is a lot of things, but she is not flawless. And neither is your mother. Continue reading

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

As seen on Huffington Post, Published on 12/10/2012

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Kathy the Christmas Elf!

Last Saturday night, my house was discombobulated. Strands of colored Christmas lights covered the floors, snow man figurines were lined up on the coffee table and garland was draped over the loveseat, nearly tripping each person passing by trying to get to the bathroom. In the middle of it all, my mother sat Indian-style carefully surveying the situation. Like a commander in chief, she was trying to figure out the best way to decorate, making sure each smiling snow creature could be scene and every light was appreciated. “What are you doing” she squeaked when I tried to pick up the garland to begin hanging it. I soon learned the best way to help was to sit on the floor, assisting to hold and pin things when she was ready. Instead of being annoying of her Christmas decoration takeover kick, I found myself smiling watching her get into the spirit. It reminded me that almost 11 years ago to the date, we almost lost the opportunity to ever decorate together.

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Living With the Medical Elephant in the Room

As seen on Huffington Post, Published on 10/29/2012

stroke_awareness_5_poster-r88b7b8b024a54b54b8cdea6f84bf2774_wad_8byvr_324Scrolling through my Twitter newsfeed while home from work Monday afternoon, I came across a tweet saying that it was World Stroke Day. A day where people raise awareness for the devastating effects strokes have on 795,000 people annually in the United State. After the tweets — and possible Facebook posts of the day — 90 percent of people who read the post forget about the statistics they’ve read or the stories of stroke survivors featured as the faces of stroke patients. They will go about their daily activities, feeling that because they retweeted the hashtag #worldstrokeday that they helped raised awareness.

World Stroke Day is more than a hashtag or 24-hour call to action day for my family — it is our everyday life. My own mother is a multiple stroke survivor and heart attack survior at the ripe age of 54 years old, experiencing her first major stroke at age 46. I remember going on the internet at age 15 searching about how to care for a parent who recently had a stroke. Continue reading