Teri Ackerson finished a Memorial Day run last year in preparation for her first marathon. She went home for a shower, then went for a coffee with her teenage son, Parker. It was then that her left arm suddenly went numb, her face drooped on the left side and she couldn’t speak.
“Mom,” Parker said, “I think you’re having a stroke.” He rushed her to a nearby Primary Stroke Center.
One year later, Ackerson, a stroke coordinator at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, Missouri, is again training for marathons and volunteering for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
She traveled to New York to appear in a segment of the Kathie Lee & Hoda hour of the “Today” show, which aired Monday. The piece told Ackerson’s story, while highlighting the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke and spreading awareness that stroke is largely beatable, treatable and preventable.
“Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. That’s about six people by the end of this segment,” Host Kathie Lee Gifford told viewers.
The segment opened with a clip of Teri’s video story, followed by interviews with Ackerson and Lori Mosca, M.D. director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association spokesperson.
“The really positive thing about her story, and the important message here, is that she recognized these symptoms and got care quickly,” Mosca said. “Even though she’s aware of the symptoms, many people are not.”
Ackerson detailed F.A.S.T, the acronym taught by the association to learn the warning signs of stroke and what to do if someone suspects a stroke — Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
Host Hoda Kotby noted that 80 percent of strokes are preventable and referred viewers to the American Stroke Association’s Stroke Assessment Quiz.
Ackerson, who is preparing for her fourth marathon since her stroke, made sure to fit in some training runs while in New York, including three miles in Central Park.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” she said.