Outstanding Caregiver – Jill Veach
“Prior to our daughter having her stroke at only 8 years old, I didn't even know the signs of a stroke, let alone that they could happen to a healthy child. We will continue to educate people about the signs of a stroke and that they can happen to anyone at any age.”
On what Jill Veach thought would be an ordinary day in July 2017, her daughter, Claudia, suddenly could not walk or talk and had a severe headache, right arm weakness and facial drooping. An ambulance arrived quickly and the paramedic shared his initial diagnosis with Jill: “I believe your daughter is having a stroke.”
Jill replied, “but she’s only eight years old!”
He said, “anyone with blood pumping through their veins can have a stroke.”
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center quickly confirmed the paramedic’s suspicion, and Claudia was diagnosed with Focal Cerebral Arteriopathy, a condition where blood vessel inflammation leads to a narrowing of a major artery in the brain.
When Claudia left the hospital, Jill took on her new role as a stroke survivor’s caregiver with tenacity and grace. She balanced administering daily medications and taking Claudia to doctor’s appointments and tests with her regular day-to-day demands of family and work.
Nearly three years later, Claudia has made a full recovery, and together, Jill and Claudia are working to raise awareness of pediatric stroke in their community. Jill reconnected with the hospital that treated Claudia asking how she could help raise awareness. This led to participation in the International Pediatric Stroke Study and filming an educational video for the hospital and participating in a news story on Claudia’s stroke. Jill has also written a blog for the International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke, is active in the Greater Cincinnati Stroke Consortium and is always looking for opportunities to share the warning signs of stroke.
Jill’s determination knows no bounds. She is now inviting friends and family to walk in the American Heart Association’s Heart Mini-Marathon & Walk in honor of Claudia as part of the team “Claudia’s Crusaders.”