Just two years ago, Jennifer Yashinski of New Cumberland was a 32-year-old human resources worker for The Hershey Co., focused on her fast-paced career.
Today, Yashinski spends most of her days either at home or in therapy recovering from a major stroke.
While giving a work presentation in Canada in October 2008, Yashinski felt a sharp pain in her right eye. After the presentation, she went to the restroom to check her eye in the mirror. "My eye was turned around in the socket," she said.
At the emergency room, she was told it was a migraine. The eye went back in place, but she still felt something was wrong. Yashinski visited five doctors, all diagnosing her with either dry eye or severe migraines.
Months later, Yashinski called her husband, Greg, at work and asked him to come home. "I was having the worst headache I'd ever had in my life," she remembered.
A visit to the neurologist had them back home with pain medication for a migraine. But three days later, she was in the emergency room. That night at Holy Spirit Hospital is one of the last things Yashinski remembered for the next seven months.
Yashinski had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and had bleeding on her brain. She was transferred to a medical center and surgeons performed a craniotomy.
"They removed half her skull for three months to allow her brain to swell. Then they reattached it with a plate," said Greg Yashinski.
Recovery was slow and often painful, but Yashinski was determined to regain a semblance of normalcy. While recovering, she heard about the American Heart Association's Heart and Stroke Walk. Although she was still having difficulty walking at the time and had no use of her left arm or hand, Yashinski set a goal to complete the walk.
"I posted something on Facebook and raised $1,200 in four days," said Yashinski, who became the No. 12 Facebook fundraiser in the country.
On Sept. 26, 2010, she walked the walk. Unassisted. Greg was standing by with a wheelchair just in case. But it was not needed as she triumphantly crossed the finish line under her own power at the 2010 Capital Region Start! Heart Walk at a local community college.