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Medina woman survives devastating brain aneurysm

Doctors said she wasn't expected to survive, but two years later, she's defying all the odds.

MEDINA, Ohio — Today, life for 55-year-old Cathy Lucas is peaceful.

She spends a lot of time on her serene, Medina property with her husband, Paul, and their beloved Great Dane, Earl. Her two grown sons, Matt and Dave come over often to fish or swim in their pond. 

Their home is a place of reflection. It's also a place of gratitude, because just two years ago, this is where Cathy's life changed forever.

"I got up at two in the morning, told (Paul) I had a headache. I went to the bathroom, started throwing up, came back and said, 'I think I need to go to the hospital,' which is so unusual for me. Like, that's not me at all. So it must have been really bad," Cathy remembered.

It was bad: A 12-millimeter aneurysm had ruptured in Cathy's brain, causing a stroke. She was flown to Cleveland Clinic's Main Campus for emergency surgery to remove part of her skull.

"It was absolutely life threatening. Given the size of the hemorrhage that she had, and the amount of swelling in her brain, you know, it was a very high likelihood that she was not going to survive," Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon, Dr. Peter Rasmussen said.

For Paul, the waiting game was agonizing.

"She never regained consciousness for about three to three and a half weeks," Paul told us. "Even when she woke up, you know, she was able to follow some commands, but she still had no use of her left side of her body — wasn't able to talk, wasn't able to swallow."

Cathy's medical team was unsure of what she would regain, or how long it would be

"Dr. Rasmussen said it's a year to two years, but it's really a lifetime of recovery," Paul said.

For Cathy, the journey was tough, and painful at times.

"I remember being in physical therapy and I hated it. I mean, it was so hard. Just everything was just so hard, but I knew that they were doing stuff to help me," Cathy said.

Little by little, she relearned everything. She was fighting for her life back, even knowing it would look different.

"Two years later, we're seeing her cognitive processing getting better," Paul said. "The use of her left arm gets better as she continues to use it."

Paul and Cathy walk their long driveway often. It's healing for them; it's also served as good training. 

A year after what happened, Cathy's made a miraculous recovery enough to participate in the Cleveland Clinic's Brain Aneurysm Awareness 5K run/1-mile walk.

This year's walk is a bit more meaningful, as it falls almost exactly two years after Cathy's aneurysm. Just before the bell rang, Cathy spoke to the crowd, saying how grateful she was to be alive.

Then, led by her faith and the people who love her, she took off, walking into this new life the Lucas' will never take for granted.

"I'm proud of myself, but I'm so thankful to my God," Cathy told us. "He put Paul in place for me over 30 years ago. He's been a great dad to our boys. He's always been a great husband to me before that. I mean, he's just a very good man. Very good man."

Paul only wants the best for his wife, and the purest gift life could give.

"I just want her to be happy," Paul said. "She's here and I keep telling her, 'You know, you're here for a purpose, and whatever that purpose is, I want to be a part of it.'"

Cathy tells us what brings her joy is to pray and send good wishes to anyone she meets. That, she says, is her purpose.

Editor's Note: The below video is from a previous, unrelated report.


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