Stroke can happen to anyone, any time, at any age

Acting FAST can improve the chances of survival


IN 2009, Tony Mok was 40 years old, married with three young children and working full time. On January 17 that year, Tony came home from work, had dinner with his family, and relaxed with some television. Later, he and his wife Ann were chatting in bed when suddenly Tony started to slur his words. Ann didn’t know what was wrong, but she knew she had to call 9-1-1.

It’s hard to believe that Tony could have a stroke at such a young age, but it happens more often than most people know. There was a bleed in Tony’s brain, a hemorrhagic stroke.

After several weeks, Tony tried to return to his food industry job, but he was no longer able to work in the fast-paced environment. He grew fatigued quickly and the stress was more than he could manage. He needed to stop working and focus on recovery.

Tony decided to take control of his health so he started running. But it left him so fatigued he needed to nap for hours. Over time, Tony learned how to pace himself so he could stay fit while maintaining his energy. Every stroke is different, and recovery is unique for each person.

Tony got into yardwork and gardening, and loved the time he got to spend with his kids. Eventually, he started working at a golf course, where he continues to work today.

But in May 2020, it happened again – Tony had a second hemorrhagic stroke. His symptoms were mild, some numbness in his cheek and fingers, and he spent 4 days in hospital. Having gone through a stroke before, Tony knew he needed time to recover so he took a year off work. He’s now returned and is doing well, continuing on his stroke recovery journey.


You can help save a life!

Time is everything during a stroke. In fact, there is a saying that “time lost is brain lost.”

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off or, as in Tony’s case, bleeding happens in the brain. Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute after a stroke, so the sooner blood flow can be restored, the better the chance of survival – with little or no disability.

It’s important for all of us to learn the signs of stroke and know what to do. FAST is an easy and memorable way to remember the most common signs of stroke:

If you or someone with you experiences any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number right away, and tell them you are having or witnessing a stroke. Arriving by ambulance means you will more quickly get to the right hospital – one that is equipped to provide emergency stroke care.

Not all hospitals are equipped to provide the treatment needed to stop the effects of stroke. Paramedics will know which hospital in your area can best help, so please don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. You could save a life!




The FAST signs are the most common signs of stroke and are more likely to be caused by stroke than any other condition. There are other signs of stroke that are less common, including:

  • Vision changes: blurred or double vision
  • Sudden severe headache: usually accompanied by other signs
  • Numbness: usually on one side of the body
  • Problems with balance

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If you do not speak English, please learn the English word “Punjabi”. 9-1-1 operators have access to interpreters in 170 languages who can be on the line in minutes to help you if you let the operator know which language you speak. You could save a life!