Before she suffered a life-threatening stroke, in 2016, Aubrey Ness had participated in two marathons.

The Crown Point nurse has run three since, and plans to do another one next month.

The 34-year-old is set to take part in the New York City Marathon scheduled for Nov. 3.

Just three years ago, all this seemed improbable.

"It was a pretty bad one," she said of her stroke. "I had to learn how to walk again. I had to go through a lot of speech therapy to be able to talk again."

Despite the obstacles, she did the Chicago Marathon just four months after her stroke. Luckily, she had already been training for it and completed a half-marathon three weeks before.

Keep reading for FREE!
Enjoy more articles by signing up or logging in. No credit card required.

"It affected my right side. At first, I was super weak in my right leg and arm," she said. "My balance was really off. And then just being tired. In the first couple of months after my stroke, I was tired doing any little thing."

She said she still deals with some damage incurred by the stroke, such as headaches, minor speech difficulties and balance issues.

As part of running in the New York marathon, she is raising funds for Team for Kids, a group of adult runners who donate money to youth programs. She said she grew up poor and didn't have a lot of athletic opportunities, putting her at a disadvantage as she's tried to get into shape later in life.

"If I had grown up with better habits, being able to participate in a sport, I think I probably wouldn't struggle as much as I do now," she said. "That's why I really like the Team for Kids charity. Those kids might not have somebody at home who encourages them to be outside, to go play, to do this and do that. It offers a safe and positive environment for kids after school so they don't get in trouble."

She believes her stroke was a side effect of birth control that caused a blood clot to form in her brain. When it happened, she had to be put on life support and airlifted to the University of Chicago hospital. She has since gone on to work in the same unit there — neurological critical care — where she was a patient.

"It's been like really inspiring to be able to tell, especially the young patients, 'Hey, I had something bad happen to me, and it's going to get better,'" she said. "They need a lot of encouragement, and their families need to know too, that this is right now and it can get better. It's a way to give other people hope, you know?"


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.