Pensacola man survives cancer, then overcomes stroke | Ascension

Pensacola man survives cancer, then overcomes stroke

Cancer survivor received life-saving stroke care at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola.

Bret Boyd of Pensacola, Florida, has achieved a rare and extraordinary feat – he is both a cancer and stroke survivor.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Bret, 59, was talking to his wife Maricel and didn’t realize his speech had become slurred. “My wife looked at me and said, ‘Something is wrong with you!’” While Maricel was calling an ambulance, Bret recalls losing function in his right arm and going in and out of consciousness.

Quick action and fast treatment are vital to stroke survival. Maricel’s quick action saved her husband’s life.

Bret was rushed by Escambia County Emergency Medical Services toThe Advanced Brain and Spine Institute at Ascension Sacred Heart, a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center that provides advanced imaging and complex stroke treatments. While there, he received a clot-busting treatment and underwent a procedure to remove the clot (thrombectomy).

An ER doctor met Bret at the door with a care team to begin the Stroke Alert process. Dr. Terry Neill, the region's only board-certified neurocritical care specialist and the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center, led the way in quickly assessing, interpreting images, and determining a plan of action. Dr. Christopher Bosarge, an interventional radiologist, performed a thrombectomy, where he routed a tiny mesh tube through a catheter in the groin to extract the blood clot blocking the blood vessel in the brain.Dr. Valerie Pruitt, a neurocritical care specialist, took care of Bret after his treatment in the NeuroTrauma ICU.

Bret was treated in the area’s only specialized neurointensive care unit designed for patients recovering from stroke. By that Friday, he had vastly improved and was discharged home. “All the nurses were great,” recalled his dad, Al. “They showed us what they were doing at every step and why they were doing it. They were incredible.” Nurses who stood out included Kathy McIntyre, RN, and Alina Holmes, RN, both on day shift and Casie Clifton, RN, a night nurse.

Bret was cleared by physical, occupational, and speech therapy during his stay and all function has returned to his right arm. The only issue he has is “finding my words,” he said, a condition that should continue improving.

To learn more about Ascension Sacred Heart’s leaders in stroke care,