Why I Fight: Katie B

Why I Fight: Katie B
April 6, 2016 EBF


What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you do?

Why I Fight – My name is Katie Buteau and I am 28 years old. I’m from Wellesley, MA and I am a kindergarten teacher.

What is your fight?

I fight to end strokes. When I was 25 years old, I survived two strokes caused by a dissection (tear) in my right vertebral artery. The dissection was caused by the angle of my neck on the edge of the sink while I was getting my hair shampooed at the salon (a rare circumstance known as Beauty Parlor Syndrome). Because I was young, healthy and incredibly lucky, and because my brain compensated for the damage so the stroke symptoms went away after about a half hour each time, everyone assumed I was developing migraines. One very careful doctor at Mass General wanted to order an MRI to be safe. The test revealed the strokes in my brain, which led to additional testing and treatment at Mass General.

When the strokes were happening — meaning the clot had become lodged in my brain and the rest of my brain had not yet taken over for the damaged area — I had big spots of black in my vision and an arc of flashing lights during the first stroke, accompanied by the inability to use my right arm, walk or stand up during the second stroke one day later. When each was happening, I remember thinking, “This isn’t a stroke because people can understand what I am saying.” I did not know that strokes can look different depending on the part of the brain affected or that strokes can happen to people who do not have preexisting conditions making them vulnerable (I was only familiar with my grandmother’s stroke due to her preexisting Atrial Fibrilation).

I do not want people to worry — just because strokes can happen, doesn’t mean they will — but I want everyone to be aware of the signs of stroke (FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911; as well as mine: numbness, confusion, trouble seeing, trouble walking and headache) and the lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of stroke.

Who do you fight for?Why I Fight: KatieI fight for everyone affected by stroke, as well as those who care for them and those who miss them.

What’s your fighter’s mantra?

Whatever you need, you already have.

Who can you always count on to be in your corner during a fight?

My husband, Joe, and my best friends from high school.

If you could fight side-by-side with one person, past or present, who would it be?

Tedy Bruschi.

What is your Fight Fuel?

For the marathon? Gummy bears!


What is your Fight Song?

Feel This Moment, Pitbull and Christina

How do you Fight It Forward?

By sharing my story and running the Boston Marathon with Tedy’s Team!

I want to change the face of stroke. I used to have a picture in my mind of what stroke looks like, and it was not a day younger than 85. By sharing my story, I hope I help other people know what stroke looks like, know what to do if you or someone you are with is having a stroke, know how to decrease the risk of stroke and know that it can take a while to feel like yourself after having a stroke. In addition to the mental and physical rehabilitation, it takes time to get your energy, strength and confidence back.

Tedy’s Team is a group of runners raising money for the American Stroke Association and training to complete the Boston Marathon. Tedy’s Team runners also raise money to fund research and efforts to end stroke.

Why should others fight?

Because no one should have to fight alone.

Why I Fight: Katie