Stroke Story


My mom, Marshelle Samuels, and I at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Work Stress Causes Stroke
In 2009 my mom, Marshelle Samuels, was hospitalized due to a near-fatal stroke triggered by work-related stress. A week before, she was in attendance for my spoken word showcase performance.

My mom was a single parent raising two sons while working in Human Resources for over 20 years. It was a very stressful job and she worked many long hours. One day she started having severe headaches which would not go away. Several months later she had a massive stroke which almost ended her life.

The National Stroke Association’s definition of a stroke: “a stroke is a ‘brain attack’. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.” 

Check out my mom’s story in this video.

After The Stroke 
Learning how to be a caretaker at 18 years old and helping my mom with the physical therapy process was a humbling experience for me and my brother. Since her stroke, my mom has become a stroke advocate and peer mentor.

She served as a co-facilitator for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences stroke support group and is a peer mentor for brain injury patients. In addition, she served as a co-facilitator of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, a Stanford University-administered program through UI Health Hospital. My mom is a recipient of the American Stroke Association Stroke Hero Award. 

To learn how to spot the early warning signs of a stroke, check out the Windy City interview featuring my mom and Dr. Charbel.

Becoming a caretaker was just another chapter added to Isaiah’s already inspirational story.