DES MOINES, Iowa — Each season of change brings something new to be thankful for.

“I’ll sit with my granddaughter today and help her plan her Halloween costume. Life is so precious,” said Brian Clark of Des Moines.

It’s a precious moment Brian never thought he’d see after suffering a stroke in May of 2021.

“My face was drooping, arm weakness in my left arm and my speech was very slurred. My wife called 911 right away,” said Clark.

The now 58-year-old real estate professional had used the pandemic to get into the best shape of his life through fitness.

“It can happen to anyone of all ages regardless of health or background,” Clark said.

Brian was rushed to MercyOne in Des Moines and was on the operating table within 90 minutes, Brian considers himself one of the lucky ones as MercyOne is one of just two hospitals in the state that performs the thrombectomy procedure needed to remove the clot in his brain.

“The stroke was on the right side of my brain so my left side of my body was affected,” Clark said. “Extreme weakness on my left side but through therapy at MercyOne and On With Life Ankeny I’m able to regain some of that strength over time.”

The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association and wants everyone to know that spotting a stroke is as easy as using the acronym F.A.S.T. Facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911. If someone is showing any of those signs medical experts say to get them help immediately to minimize any long term effects and prevent death.

“My grandfather had a stroke late in his life and was wheelchair ridden and couldn’t speak,” Clark said.

The ASA believes strokes are largely preventable, treatable and beatable with the right education and with real life success stories like Brian’s.

“In my mind in the ambulance I’m thinking I’m going to be like my grandfather and that’s not the case,” said Clark.

A survivor’s perspective that proves, much like the calendar, change can bring growth.

“Not many folks get a second chance. Now I want to make the most of my time on my planet helping others, my family and deeper connections with parents, friends and family,” Clark said.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Iowa. In 2020 the ASA says it took the lives of 1,408 Iowans.