Missouri Stroke Survivor Honors Child Lost to Heart Disease During American Stroke Month and Mother’s Day
Cheryl Rauschenbach is a stroke survivor, wife and mother. Her fuel is her family and her faith. Cheryl is also a featured survivor for #NoMOHeartDisease, the American Heart Association’s year-long initiative created to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease in Missouri.
For most stroke survivors, American Stroke Month in is a time of celebration and triumph. But May is a bittersweet month for Cheryl Rauschenbach. As a stroke survivor, Cheryl celebrates her continued recovery from a stroke that she suffered at just 52 a few short years ago. But along with the celebration of her own survival, May brings with it Mother’s Day, which reminds Cheryl of the loss of her daughter, Emily, to heart disease.
One night before bed, Cheryl told her husband, Rob, that she was not feeling well and might be coming down with a virus. The next morning, Rob asked Cheryl how she was feeling and when she replied, Rob told her to “stop talking gibberish”. This was the first hint that Cheryl might be having a stroke. After looking at her face drooping in the mirror, Cheryl’s suspicions were confirmed.
While Cheryl was recovering from her stroke, her 29-year-old daughter, Emily, was facing her own health issues. Born with a congenital heart defect called Loeys-Dietz aneurysm syndrome, Emily underwent numerous heart surgeries. Complications arose, including the loss of a lung.
To help them navigate the water of their daughter’s heart defect, the Rauschenbachs connected with the American Heart Association when Emily was born. As she grew, Emily volunteered with the Association, reaching out to other survivors and support the organization’s mission. Emily also volunteered at Camp Rhythm, a camp for children with heart conditions, where campers gravitated toward her positive attitude.
Despite the challenges both mother and daughter faced, Cheryl and Emily were hopeful and determined. Hopeful to help others suffering from similar issues by sharing their stories; determined to work toward their best selves and to not let their diagnoses define them.
Emily Rauschenbach lost her battle with heart disease at just 30 years old. Her parents and her brother and sister were devastated, but determined to carry on Emily’s legacy. For Cheryl, as Emily’s mother and a stroke survivor, the American Heart Association was a familiar and fitting outlet to do so.
That is why Cheryl is sharing her and Emily’s stories as part of #NoMOHeartDisease, the American Heart Association’s year-long initiative created to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease in Missouri.
Of why she chose to be part of #NoMOHeartDisease, Cheryl remarked, “I hope to honor Emily’s memory and help the American Heart Association raise awareness of heart disease and stroke so fewer mothers have to suffer the loss of a child.”
#NoMOHeartDisease works to educate Missourians on changes they can make to prevent heart disease, while unifying heart disease survivors. Each month, #NoMOHeartDisease tells a heart disease survivor’s story through video, blog and social media, all of which can be found at heart.org/nomoheartdisease. The American Heart Association also posts about the initiative on their Missouri Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Survivors are encouraged to share their heart disease stories, and Missourians are encouraged to interact with the initiative, by using #NoMOHeartDisease on social media. Video production services for the #NoMOHeartDisease initiative were donated by Rogue Route.