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You would never know it by looking at her today, but Rebecca Winchell is lucky to be alive. The 42-year old  mother of seven suffered a potentially deadly brain hemorrhage as a result of an aneurysm in 2009.

Rebecca Winchell

She organized “Aces Against Aneurysms,” an annual tennis tournament that takes place each spring at Pelican Athletic Club in Mandeville, LA to raise funds for  aneurysm research and support group. “I feel so lucky to be alive that I want to educate others on the symptoms of aneurysms so they can get the lifesaving care they need,” Rebecca said. This year’s ladies tournament is April 13, 2015 and the men’s tourney is April 27. It is the tournament’s 6th year and the inaugural  year for brainsupportnola.com, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization she formed to raise awareness about aneurysm and stroke along the Gulf Coast.

Rebecca had just finished playing tennis when she began suffering from what felt like a sinus headache. “All of sudden that night I felt fluid rushing to my head and my neck felt very sore,” she recalls. “I was coherent enough to speak but in a lot of pain so I went to the emergency room.”

There, her condition was diagnosed as a migraine and she was sent home. Two hours later, she still felt horrible. A spinal tap showed blood in her spinal fluid. She was rushed to the care of interventional neuroradiologist Robert Dawson, M.D. at Culicchia Neurological Clinic in New Orleans, who diagnosed an aneurysm. Dr. Dawson used a state-of-the-art technique to repair the aneurysm without surgery using a micro-catheter threaded all the way to the site in her brain.

Ten days later, Rebecca was back home with her family. Two months later, she was back on the tennis court.

She has used funds raised from the tennis tournament to sponsor a support group for aneurysm survivors and their families.

Contact Rebecca Winchell:  rebeccawinchell@gmail.com

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