Jessica Ocampo was just ten years old when she suffered a stroke as she sat in class at school. Today she is a poised young woman sharing her experience to raise awareness and inspire hope. “I want to be a person who inspires motivation and hope in the hearts of others,” she explains. Now 19, Jessica is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) in California’s Inland Empire region. She is pictured with her mother Lorena at a recent Go Red For Women event.
She remembers developing a terrible headache while waiting for class to start one day in February of 2002. “My head was throbbing,” she recalls, “and it began to feel hot like it was a volcano that erupted.” Within minutes she was unable to move and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors determined Jessica had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke -- blood vessels in her brain had inexplicably burst. They told her parents she was the youngest stroke patient they had ever seen.
The prognosis was bleak – the stroke was inoperable and her family braced for the worst. As she clung to life, a new treatment was suggested that might help, but there were no guarantees. Gamma Knife Radiation was used successfully to seal her ruptured blood vessels and Jessica experienced no lasting effects from the stroke. “My doctors were amazed that I was completely healed and had no side-effects,” she says. “From the outside, it was as if nothing had ever happened to me.”
“I would not be here if it had not been for that treatment,” she continues. “I was thankful and saw the world with a new found hope. I would not take my life for granted and would tell my story to help others.” She shares her zest for life often at AHA/ASA events like the Inland Empire Go Red For Women Luncheon and Go Red Shuffle on National Wear Red Day in Riverside. In addition to her work as a volunteer/spokesperson, Jessica loves being outdoors enjoying nature and capturing its wonders through her photography. “Above all else,” she adds, “I enjoy spending time with my wonderful family and my handsome boyfriend.”