After Her Daughter’s Stroke At 17, Mom Says Caregiving Is ‘An Honor’

Her speech and mobility were limited, and she struggled with short- and long-term memory.

Jasmine Harris (left) with her mom, La’Wana, at a health fair in 2014. (Photo courtesy of La’Wana Harris)

Jasmine Harris (left) with her mom, La’Wana, at a health fair in 2014. (Photo courtesy of La’Wana Harris)

Doctors aren’t sure what caused Jasmine’s stroke. Such cases are referred to as cryptogenic strokes, which account for an estimated 30 percent of strokes caused by a blood clot.

Stroke is the nation’s No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability among U.S. adults. Although the rate of stroke deaths fell 38 percent between 2000 and 2015, that pace has slowed for African-Americans since 2012, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. African-Americans are most likely to die from stroke, the report said.

Following her stroke, Jasmine underwent outpatient therapy to rebuild muscle strength and help her body relearn how to do everyday activities.

“I remember laughing and crying at the same time when I first tried to go up the stairs,” Jasmine said. “I just couldn’t get my body to understand how to do it.”

Household duties shifted, with Jasmine’s father, Eddie Harris Sr., taking over the cooking and other chores so that La’Wana, who took time off work, could pour herself into helping Jasmine recover, advocating for her care, learning about new therapies and trying to understand more about stroke.

“I just couldn’t believe this could happen to someone so young,” said La’Wana, whose two older sons, Eddie Harris Jr. and Malcolm Harris, were away at college at the time. “The physical and emotional toll was incredible.”

Jasmine Harris (middle) with, from left, her brothers Eddie Jr. and Malcolm, son Jaden, mother La'Wana and father Eddie Sr. (Photo courtesy of La'Wana Harris)

Jasmine Harris (middle) with, from left, her brothers Eddie Jr. and Malcolm, son Jaden, mother La’Wana and father Eddie Sr. (Photo courtesy of La’Wana Harris)

La’Wana grappled with anxiety, not knowing whether a full recovery would be possible for Jasmine and navigating the ups and downs of the months that followed.

“Being a caregiver, it’s a huge responsibility, but it’s also an honor,” La’Wana said.