Baylor Health Care System Foundation

Patient Stories


Stroke Survivor

Tina Danze

Thirteen-year-old Rachel Herrera was a soldier, a candy cane and an enthusiastic member of The Nutcracker cast. The next day at school, visions of the performance were still dancing in her head when she suddenly lost control of her left side. What she thought was “the worst headache ever” turned out to be a stroke.

Rachel had an extremely rare condition that produces an abnormal connection between the veins and arteries in the brain. This condition caused a rupture that led to her stroke. Fortunately, her teachers responded quickly. At the hospital, a CT scan revealed cranial bleeding, and Rachel was then sent by CareFlight to a pediatric hospital. There, doctors fought to keep her alive – she almost died more than once. The next stage of treatment was to begin rehabilitation at Our Children’s House.

It’s hard to imagine how this formerly healthy, straight-A student felt as she started on the long journey of rehabilitation. She remembers being devastated at not being able to do what makes her happiest – dance. Her mother remembers watching Rachel struggle to read a single paragraph. But at Our Children’s House, everything from neuropsychology to occupational therapy was used to give Rachel her adolescence back. The clinical staff knows that, time and again, even patients whose situations appear hopeless can make amazing progress.

Rachel is well on her way. A few months after starting rehabilitation, she conquered her summer reading assignment: Beowulf. Now, all the muscles on her left side from shoulder to toes are getting stronger every day. She’s regaining function by using the discipline she knows best. Dance.


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