On National Wear Red Day, Utah mom shares story of surviving stroke

Posted at 8:06 AM, Feb 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 11:05:22-05

CLEARFIELD, Utah — For 19 years, Americans have been wearing red on the first Friday of February to show support for National Wear Red Day, an initiative that raises awareness for heart disease and stroke.

Just over three years ago, National Wear Red Day took on a whole new meaning to Mandi Schill because that’s when she became a stroke survivor at age 30.

While she identifies that as a life-defining moment. Just three weeks before the stroke, she became a mom for the first time.

Schill describes what she was doing and how she felt before she suffered a stroke: “I was home with my son and was trying to make him a bottle, and I felt like I was going to pass out.”

Thankfully, she spoke with her sister on the phone that day. Her sister is a nurse, and she advised Schill to bypass urgent care and go straight to the emergency room.

She explains, “If my sister hadn’t told me to go to the hospital, I don’t think I would’ve. I would’ve just thought I was sick of something. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t realize that I was having a stroke.”

An ischemic stroke happens when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed. Schill says she didn’t have the textbook warning signs of a stroke (F.A.S.T). They were a lot subtler.

While she had been diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia, Schill says she was surprised to learn that she had a stroke because she was on medication to treat high blood pressure and had been checking it twice daily at the time.

Ultimately, the health scare forced Schill to reconsider her exercise regimen and the foods she put in her body. Schill began running regularly for her cardiovascular health and switched to a Mediterranean diet. She continues both habits to this day.

While Schill can call herself a stroke survivor, a lot of women can’t. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports stroke as the fifth leading cause of death in women.

Schill takes advantage of opportunities like National Wear Red Day to share important takeaways with others to prevent statistics from getting worse.