Caroline Goggin has been in good health her whole life. She exercises regularly, practices proper nutrition and in other ways makes wellness part of her lifestyle. So why, at only 27 years old, did she suffer a stroke in October 2019?
She struggles with that question, too.
“I have no prior history, no family history,” Goggin said. “I’m so mad at my body.”
She is fully recovered physically. Emotional healing has been more difficult.
“I fear every day that I will have another one. I worry if I wake up and my arm is numb because I slept on it,” she said. She’s returned to the hospital a few times because of these concerns.
Her doctors are still monitoring potential factors and believe a medication she was taking at the time was the main cause. She faults herself for not understanding the possible side effects of that drug. It’s one of the most important lessons she wants to impart to others.
Goggin considers herself lucky. Her husband, Travis, recognized the symptoms and called for medical help immediately. “He doesn’t give himself enough credit. He says he did what anyone would do, but not everyone would know what to do,” Goggin said.
And not all strokes exhibit the same. Hers had the tell-tale signs. She lost her vision, had slurred speech, her hands were shaking and the left side of her face drooped.
She was treated at Norwood Hospital in Massachusetts and then Boston Medical Center. She returned home within a week. That same day she decided to use her story to spread awareness, starting with posts from her professional social media accounts.
As a news anchor for a New England TV station, she was able to reach a sizeable audience.
“The feedback was overwhelming,” she said. “I did not expect how wonderful people in this world could be,” Caroline said.
She was surprised to hear from other young stroke survivors. “So many of them go through this and don’t say anything because they are embarrassed, as if they did something wrong,” Goggin said.
They suffer the emotional effects in silence. She is their voice.
“I really want people to know that the emotional pain lingers long after you go through a stroke,” Goggin said.
She is committed to her cause, supporting any effort that increases awareness and prevention or assists stroke survivors and their families. The American Stroke Association, an arm of the American Heart Association, leads many of those efforts.
In February 2020, the association honored Goggin and other brave heart disease and stroke survivors at its Providence, R.I., Go Red for Women luncheon. About 700 people attended.
In April 2022, Caroline and her husband ran the Boston Marathon on behalf of Tedy’s Team, a major supporter of the American Heart Association. Former NFL linebacker Tedy Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, founded Tedy’s Team in 2005 when Bruschi suffered a stroke shortly after winning a third championship title with the New England Patriots and participating in the Pro Bowl.
At AAA Northeast, we recognize that Goggin is not our only member affected in some way by heart and brain issues. We encourage all of our members to come along with us to the Southern New England Heart Walk on June 10 at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., or in other ways support the efforts of the American Heart Association.