Faith Over Fear: The Fight Behind Stroke


“I had begun to grieve who I was,” said Carmen Palmer, a stroke survivor from Winston-Salem. “It took me almost three years to get to the point where I said, ‘I am okay – I am no longer mourning who I was.’”

It was June of 2018 when Carmen first noticed a change in her vision. “I had run a marathon six months prior to my stroke, so my body was in great condition,” she shared. Since Carmen was in wonderful physical shape, she never suspected anything was wrong.

After observation and MRI procedures, Carmen soon found out she had developed a benign tumor behind her right eye on her optic nerve and went to the hospital for surgery in July of 2019. The tumor was entangled around Carmen’s carotid artery and during the surgery, an artery collapsed, leading to a stroke. The doctors came out to speak to her family in the seventh hour of the six-hour surgery. The physicians shared with her family that there was nothing they could do but make her comfortable. As a family of faith, Carmen’s husband Keith Palmer replied, “No – get back in there – that’s not what we prayed for.” The doctors said it was a miracle that Carmen survived.

At just 45 years old, Carmen had experienced a stroke on the right side of her brain, affecting the left side of her body. She lost vision in both her eyes and could not drive for about six to seven months. “I would wake up some days crying – because I couldn’t get up and run 20 miles or go to the gym and workout for two hours. I was mourning the old me.”

What was supposed to be a four to five day stay in the hospital post-surgery turned into six weeks of rehab learning how to walk again. “It was very traumatic for me,” Palmer recalled. “It was very traumatic for my family, as well.” She was so used to being independent, having to depend on other people was hard for her. “I had to make sure the right people were with me. My family which included my three children and my church family were very critical in my recovery process,” shared Carmen. During physical therapy, for a while, she worked on standing up and sitting down. “It’s a daily process that I’m still going through,” Palmer said. “Daily I had to tell myself, Carmen you are strong, and this is only temporary.”

With the help of her daughters who took her to and from appointments, Carmen returned to work as the owner and broker in charge at Master Key Realty. By Carmen’s willpower and her faith in God, she was able to make a remarkable recovery.

Now, at 50 years old, Carmen runs up to three miles twice a week and, with the help of her trainer, she eventually plans to run her third marathon. “The stroke really defined me,” Palmer said. “I always say that running helped define me – but the stroke defined me even more. And, I know I have purpose on this earth.”

Carmen Palmer, a proud American Heart Association 2023 Triad Go Red Woman, realtor at Blue Door Group Real Estate and member of the Great Commission Community Church, shares her story in hopes of helping other women fight their way back from heart disease and stroke. “I want everyone to know that if they believe they can do it, they will overcome the obstacles that are in front of them,” said Carmen.

Cardiovascular disease continues to be the number one killer of women in the United States. Not all, but most heart and stroke-related events can be largely prevented with lifestyle changes, such as knowing your vital numbers, moving more, eating smarter and managing vital health numbers including blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

The American Heart Association is celebrating 100 years of saving lives and pioneering scientific discoveries. For two decades, the Triad Heart Ball campaign has supported those efforts in driving change, funding science and improving heart and stroke health for everyone.

Through the Triad Heart Ball and the Novant Health Rehabilitation Hospital Platinum Sponsorship, large F.A.S.T. letters are currently being displayed as part of an educational campaign throughout the Triad. This display encourages community members to learn how to spot the warning signs of a stroke with F.A.S.T. “F” stands for face drooping. “A” stands for arm weakness. “S” stands for speech difficulty. “T” stands for time to call 9-1-1. If a person shows any symptoms, even if their symptoms go away, 9-1-1 should be called and the person should go to the hospital immediately.

The Triad Heart Ball is sponsored by Live Fierce. Life is Why Sponsor, Novant Health, Signature Sponsor, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Platinum Sponsor, Novant Health Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Encompass Health. The event includes a Roaring 20s theme in celebration of the American Heart Association’s 100th birthday, a silent auction, live auction, gourmet dinner and live entertainment.

For more information about the Triad Heart Ball or to donate to help fight heart disease and stroke in the Triad, scan the QR code or visit


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!

Latest Stories

Other Featured Articles


All Article in Current Issue

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!