WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A husband and father, Rob Rawlings, lived life as planned until 2017.

“I was having really bad headaches, migraine-like for a couple of weeks and nothing else,” Rob explained.

Those headaches landed Rob in the emergency room.

“My wife said to me, ‘Hey Rob, you’re in the hospital. You had a stroke.’ My first thought was no way,” he said.

At 46 years old, Rob found himself relearning the basics, like walking and talking.

“I was too young, fairly healthy,” he thought.

As he learned, strokes can happen at any age.

“Heart disease and stroke, it does not discriminate. It doesn’t know if you’re 88 years old or you’re 8 years old,” explained Heather Smart, Senior Director of the American Heart Association.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. It’s the fifth leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the U.S.

The acronym F.A.S.T is used to spot signs of a stroke.

“The face is drooping, they’re having arm weakness – inability to close their fist, and then the speech, then that’s the time then (to call 911), and that’s the biggest thing,” Smart said.

The more time that passes before getting care, the more brain cells and neurons that die.

As for Rob, five years after his stroke, he says every day is like therapy.

“Just trying to hold a cup, hold a pen, write my name, whatever it’s hard. You have to learn to take a few deep breaths, sit back and say just give me some time,” he said.

His competitive nature and loved ones encourage him daily.

“I really wanted my kids to see their dad going OK this horrible thing happened, but he’s doing whatever he can to get through,” Rob said.

Rob adds ‘survivor’ to his list of titles.

To learn more about strokes and risk factors, click here.