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Bury St Edmunds stroke survivor Lauren Cornish raises awareness of symptoms alongside the Stroke Association

A mum from Bury St Edmunds has shared how suffering a stroke aged 26 was the ‘most unfair thing’ and feels as though it has halted her life.

Lauren Cornish, now aged 30, struggled with symptoms of her stroke for days, because she wanted to be there for her daughter.

The single mum now wants to raise awareness for young stroke survivors and encourage everyone to know the signs.

Lauren Cornish had a stroke when she was 26-years-old. Picture: Submitted
Lauren Cornish had a stroke when she was 26-years-old. Picture: Submitted

Before her stroke in February 2019, Lauren was studying for a degree with no indication that she was about to become seriously unwell.

“I was absolutely fine, it was really ironic as I had lost about three stone, was going to the gym and working part time,” she explained.

“It is the most unfair thing, I was at a really good place in my life for the first time ever. I had really started to find myself and my fitness levels were at a level they had never been.”

Describing the fateful afternoon she had the stroke, Lauren said: “It was a Monday afternoon, it is weird the funny things you remember.

“I didn’t have any headaches before or anything like that. All of a sudden it was like I had been shot in the back of the head, I could hear it, it was so loud it was like a gun shot but it was in my head. It felt like I had been punched in the back of the head so hard.”

She then tried to stand up to wipe herself with her left arm (she is left-handed) but it felt so heavy she could barely lift it.

Alongside the pain in her head Lauren felt like she was intoxicated and was slurring.

However her immediate focus was picking up her daughter Alyssa, now 10, from school.

Lauren (right) with her daughter Alyssa, now aged 10. Picture: Submitted
Lauren (right) with her daughter Alyssa, now aged 10. Picture: Submitted

That evening Lauren was able to have an over-the-phone GP appointment, where she was told she probably had a virus.

Despite suffering from severe headaches and being unable to talk properly, it wasn’t until days later she booked a face-to-face appointment at the surgery.

A GP carried out a stroke screening on Lauren and immediately called for a paramedic to take her to hospital. Following CT and MRI scans Lauren was told she’d had multiple strokes.

She said: “I was in denial, I had been in a really positive place and then I was being admitted to a stoke ward.”

Many of the patients on the ward, and even some nurses, were shocked that she had a stroke at such a young age.

In the years since her stroke, tests have revealed Lauren has a hole in heart and a genetic disorder which causes high cholesterol. Both of these things are likely to have contributed to her stroke.

Lauren was able to recover from the physical impact quickly but the mental health problems and memory loss she suffered are longer lasting.

Despite feeling lucky that the impact of the stroke wasn’t more severe, Lauren who has been forced to give up studying, said: “There has been a lot of trauma and I have not been the same since.

“It has really halted me in my life and I have lost a lot of things about me.”

She added: “It has had a lasting affect on my mental health, it has almost put me back to being a child again as I used to be very anxious.”

Lauren now believes there is a real need for more stroke support for young survivors.

More information about strokes and what causes them can be found on the Stroke Association website.

According to the Stroke Association:

-Over half (60 per cent ) of the UK population wrongly believe that strokes don't happen to young people.

-In fact, a quarter of young stroke survivors aged 18-60 (25 per cent) feel their stroke has robbed them of their future.

-Over half of young stroke survivors (56 per cent) told the Stroke Association they have missed out on an important life goal because of their stroke.