When I was 28 a FAST advert saved my life By Candice

April 21, 2020

Candice Repen smiling

The year was 2014 and I was a busy 28-year-old woman when I saw a TV advertisement about the F.A.S.T.  signs of stroke.   

I didn't take much notice; I mean why would I?  

But it was only a few months later on August 9 that things changed dramatically, and that advert saved my life.  

I had travelled from Cairns to Mareeba and had watched the Northern Pride play their country round of Rugby League. It was a cool 18 degrees and I noticed that my legs had turned blue. A friend tried to warm me up in front a heater, and feeling better, I had a coffee at Maccas before jumping in the car for the hour-long drive back to Cairns.   

The 30-minute drive from Mareeba to Kuranda was uneventful, just driving and listening to music. Then as I had passed the top of the range, I noticed that my left arm was weak, and I couldn’t hold onto the gear stick.  

But hey, I'm 28, no need to worry right?   

I must have pinched a nerve, nothing drastic I thought. I kept driving but my arm was not getting any better. Then for some unknown reason the F.A.S.T. advert came to mind. But I was confused and couldn’t get the letters right. Was it something about a FACE?   

Finally, it clicked, the signs are F.A.S.T. So I went through the list.  

F. Face...yep by this time the left side was numb.  
A. Arm...yep that went a while ago.  
S. Speech... hmmmm, let's see if I can sing along to the song, yep I sound drunk.  
T. Time...still in denial, I pulled over for some fresh air.  

After a rest I felt a bit better, so I decided to keep driving. But strange thoughts kept going through my mind. I thought about open brain surgery and of my signs. I had really freaked myself out.  

So, instead of turning for home, I took myself to emergency.   

That’s when things got serious. Doctors and nurses were putting sticky dots on me; wires were passed over my head connected to pieces of equipment, and I was jabbed a few times with I don’t know what.  

It wasn't until the doctor said he believed I had had a mini stroke that it finally dawned on me, I was in trouble. I was sent for a CT scan which showed a clot in my brain and that I was in danger of having a much larger stroke. 

Seriously!! I am 28!! 

After a while it came to me, if I hadn’t seen F.A.S.T. and remembered the signs I would have gone home to sleep and may not have survived.   

I was in hospital for two weeks, where I mainly slept. I then went home and kept sleeping for another three months.  

Thankfully, I was left with very few disabilities.  

Now nearly six years later, I am seeing F.A.S.T. pop up in my Facebook feed, and I want to say to all the young people, the 28-year olds – learn the signs of stroke and remember them. If you’re lucky you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad that you have it.