YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — May is Stroke Awareness Month, and recognizing the warning signs could be the difference between life or death. One Youngstown woman knows this all too well.

Cherie Eldridge is a two-time stroke survivor. She was 38 when she had her first stroke — it happened while she was at work.

“A client came in the store and I went to write on the paper and the pen just kept falling out of my hand,” Eldridge said. She began feeling dizzy and asked for a chair, but by then, “My left side had went limp, my arm went numb.”

This is why the American Heart Association says learning the acronym F.A.S.T. can save lives.
Jennifer McNeil with AHA says F stands for face drooping.

“Is one side of your face drooping down? Is your smile crooked?”

The A stands for arm weakness.

“Is your arm heavy? Does it hang down further? Is it weak or numb?”

The S stands for slurred speech.

“Or a speech pattern that’s different or off, or when someone’s talking and it’s a little bit garbled. If those things are happening, T stands for time to get help. You need to call 911 or you need to have someone get you to the emergency room as soon as possible,” McNeil said.

When you have a stroke, time is of the essence. McNeil says time lost is brain lost. Strokes kill brain cells and the longer you wait to get help, the more damage is done to your brain.

Eldridge says her biggest piece of advice is to take care of yourself and set boundaries.
The mother of four was working multiple jobs and stretching herself too thin.

“Don’t ever think that you’re so strong that stroke, heart attack, anything could ever happen to you. Because it can,” Eldridge said.