Life-Saving Emergency Surgery Helps NYC Musician Survive Back-to-Back Strokes

The strokes struck less than a week apart, with Jason Candler saying the life-altering heath scares came about "out of nowhere." Now doctors urge everyone to remember a "FAST" acronym that could help save a life

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At 52, music is so much a part of who Jason Candler is — but these days, all he can do is watch some old performances online.

"I want to be doing that right now, but I can't," he said as he watched a clip of himself playing saxophone.

That's because Candler suffered back-to-back strokes earlier in 2021, separated by less than a week. Candler said the health scares were "something out of nowhere that struck."

With his arm in a sling and a cane by his side, walks with his family are something worth celebrating for Candler.

"I pretty much had to learn to walk from scratch again, not knowing how to do anything," he said.

It was back in April when Candler began losing all feeling on his left side while playing with his 2-year-old son. He soon found himself on the floor, and then, the hospital. His wife called 911.

"I was crying. I never experienced anyone before having a stroke," she said.

Within a few days, he was back home — but not for long.

"I had a wonderful weekend and then that Sunday came around, and boom, knocked me flat on my back again

Blood clots meant doctors had to perform emergency surgery on his skull, a procedure that Candler said saved his life.

"If they didn’t cut the skull, I'd be gone, totally gone," he said. "They had to induce a coma. It's amazing I'm still here."

His medical team at Mount Sinai are hoping to bring awareness on this World Stroke Day, praising scientific advancements that helped save Candler's life.

"What Jason had, back 20 years ago it wasn’t really treatable, we wouldn’t be speaking to him," one of the doctors who treat Candler said.

Doctors said remember the acronym “FAST": Watch for warning signs in the Face, Arms, Speech — and don’t waste any Time getting to a hospital.

It can affect pretty much anyone, but there are steps to help yourself: Quitting smoking and treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol are all good starts.

"It just strikes without warning," Candler said.

The road to recovery will be long for the father and husband, who said left arm "just feels like weight now." But he’s far from defeated.

"First thing I got to do is work on the left shoulder, then we can work on the fingers," Candler said, already looking forward to when he's able to play music once again.

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