My mother had suffered a brain aneurysm. I had no clue what an aneurysm was at the time, but it did not sound good. I’d find out later that it was a bulge in a blood vessel, and in my mom’s case, it had ruptured, leaking blood into her brain. A doctor told my dad that most people die from the kind of aneurysm that my mom had, and many of the patients that beat the odds and survive have so many mental and physical impairments that they wish that they hadn’t been so lucky. That same day, my mother was rushed in for emergency brain surgery and then confined in the intensive care unit for what we were told would be a lengthy stay. I didn’t know what she’d be like if she ever made it home again–and I wasn’t quite sure who I was without her.
➡️ To learn more about brain aneurysms and the warning signs, please click here.
My mother had the aneurysm just as I was starting my freshman year at New Rochelle High School. With more than 3,300 students, New Rochelle can be an overwhelming New York public high school even under ordinary circumstances. I had been looking forward to making new friends, playing on the basketball team, and taking interesting classes, but with all the uncertainty surrounding my mother’s health, it became impossible to juggle everything and to focus. If things were normal, I would have turned to my mother or my parents for assistance, but this time around, that was impossible. The first time I saw my mother after her brain surgery, she was intubated, hooked to an intravenous drip, and barely responding to my words. I did not want to put my family under any more stress than they were already going through. Instead, I want to see how I could help fight against this silent killer.
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I have ADHD, and I can be scattered about some things in my life. My mother came home after a month in the ICU, and watching her learn to walk and talk again inspired me. We both were facing brain challenges, but we both could beat them. I drew up a calendar, set my priorities, and found balance. This system provided the structure that I needed to excel. Last summer, I drew on all the skills I’d been honing and launched a small business teaching physical fitness to kids–and I donated my earnings to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
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My mom is back on her feet now, and ever since her recovery, she has done all she can to raise awareness on this matter. My friends have helped me over the years by participating in events with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, including TeamCindy Annual 5K. All of my teammates were extremely engaged and helpful in setting up the day of the event. We organized water stations for the runners, directed the runners in the race, and tended to anything else we were asked to do.
➡️ To participate in TeamCindy Annual 5K or find an event in your area, click here.
This year, my mother and I participated in a virtual Advocacy Day for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. We had great discussions with Congressional staffers about brain aneurysm research and research funding via Zoom, and our discussion team called for two areas of reform. We were asking for $10 million to support Ellie’s Law, which would be government funding to help continue to do more research to find the cause of brain aneurysms. We also called for support of 2022 appropriations to make certain medical providers are aware of “best practices” to be able to detect these aneurysms before they rupture, and attempt to solve this deadly problem before anything happens. Finally, we asked for September to be recognized as National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, to educate people about this disease that currently affect tens of thousands of people in the United States.
➡️ To support September as National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, click here.
➡️ To help support Ellie’s Law by reaching out to your legislator, click here.
My mother’s aneurysm changed my life, and my family’s lives forever. Fortunately, due to my mother’s strength and endurance of her mind and soul, she was able to make a super-strong recovery and was back home in one month. Unfortunately, most cases are not like this. Every 18 minutes an aneurysm ruptures in someone in the United States and about half of those who have a ruptured aneurysm die. Most of those who are fortunate enough to survive a ruptured aneurysm are permanently changed, physically and/or mentally. I was able to see how my mother was changed — at first, she wasn’t able to do the same things she could do before her aneurysm, and she was not the same person. This was very traumatizing for me and my family, and I could only imagine the pain and anxiety it caused her. Her medical emergency showed me that you never know if life will give you a second chance. So, in all things, I try to make my first attempt count.
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