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Marilyn Boyd, Tennessee

by Sarah U. on Friday, September 14, 2012

Marilyn Boyd was 46 years old one day and 90 years old the next.

She couldn’t move her right side and speaking had become difficult—at least that’s what she was told. “I thought that something must’ve been wrong with their ears because in my head, I sounded fine,” Marilyn said. “That’s one of the things of a stroke that’s really strange.” Although she was still 46, Marilyn’s abilities had become so hindered due to her stroke, she felt she was much older.

Marilyn’s survivor story began when she was outside her Jackson, Tennessee home wrangling the family’s cats one July night in 2002. While reaching for a cat under a metal chair, something went wrong. “I had a cat-tatrophe,” said Marilyn. That wrong move took Marilyn down and she hit her head on a terra cotta flower pot. Her husband Howard heard the clash and called for an ambulance when he saw her unconscious. Doctors now describe her incident as a “traumatic cerebral accident leading to a stroke.” 

“I didn’t have any risk factors for stroke,” said Marilyn. “This is something that can truly hit anyone at any time.”

After her treatment in the hospital, Marilyn began learning elementary skills, like speaking, brushing her teeth and tying her shoes, over again. The main focus of her rehabilitation was speech therapy and after months of work and continued concentration, Marilyn could communicate again.

Now, Marilyn is speaking out in a big way. Using her experiences for reference, she has spent many hours in the offices of her local, state and federal lawmakers to help increase funding on stroke research, care and education. “If you talk enough to enough people, somebody’s gonna do something,” she said. Marilyn’s hoping that not only lawmakers, but also stroke survivors will get involved. She believes her experiences sharing her story would also benefit other stroke survivors. “I don’t view myself as significant,” Marilyn said. “But the issue is significant, so anything that’s done to help it is so important.”