A Warrior's Mentality

By definition, a warrior is a brave fighter, someone who doesn’t give up easily. To name Sabrina McKinley a warrior is an understatement.

In 2014, Sabrina McKinley was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37. It was just a few days before her daughter’s baptism when she was rushed to the Emergency Department after chemotherapy compromised her immune system.

For the mother of four, it was a grave situation. It was so serious that Sabrina was transferred to the Palliative Care Unit and her family started preparing for the worst. Fortunately, thanks to the team of healthcare professionals and her strong will to fight, Sabrina was sent home after 5 days.

“I’m a little bit of a survivor. I tell people I’m a warrior because it’s still on-going,” she explained recently. “Yes, I’ve survived, but I’m still fighting through it.”

Sabrina’s health issues took another dramatic turn in 2018 after suffering a stroke at the age of 41.

Things were returning to normal; Sabrina was back to work after three years off. One morning, coworkers remarked that her face looked strange as she walked into work. Sabrina chalked it up to being worn out.

“It was just a stressful time, so I didn’t think much of it.”

Her coworkers were concerned and suggested they take her to the Emergency Department. Once in Emerg, it quickly became apparent that this was more than Sabrina being worn out. The ER staff went through the stroke protocol and after a number of tests, it was confirmed: Sabrina was having a stoke.

Staff offered her treatment known as a TPA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator). More commonly known as a “clot buster,” the TPA works by breaking up the blockage causing the stoke. After receiving the TPA, Sabrina was monitored for a few hours in the ER before being transferred to Unit 33, the stroke unit at RDRHC.

“I was lucky. They caught it early enough that I didn’t have any physical signs of the stroke really,” she recalled. “It was all in my head.”

She spent two days on the stroke unit and was released with stroke protocol. The staff on the stroke unit were amazing the entire time she was there. “It was almost like they treat everybody like family there,” Sabrina raved. “It was absolutely phenomenal.”

While she is out of danger, a number of challenges still lay ahead. Sabrina spent weeks relearning how to write and still struggles with short-term memory loss. She knows it could have been worse, if not for the support of donors.

“I honestly could not thank you enough. There is so much that those donors do that goes to the equipment. If we didn’t have all of that equipment, I don’t know if I would have made it.”

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