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Guest-Column

Hope for stroke survivors

Jennifer Monaghan felt that her active life as a mother and volunteer was over when she suffered a stroke in April 2012 that initially left her paralyzed on her right side. But within a few months she was back carpooling and doing Pilates twice a week.

At only 43 years old, Jennifer never even considered that her health would take this kind of turn. After intensive speech therapy and hard physical work, she persevered to the point where she is helping a group of other stroke survivors through their journey.

Now, stroke survivors have a new tool for help and hope: the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Living with Stroke™ program. The program is designed to help stroke survivors and their families improve their quality of life, cope with challenges and connect with others. 

According to Jennifer, “I felt really lost after I got out of the hospital. The doctors sent me on my way and I had no one to turn to for support other than my family because there certainly wasn’t anyone in my circle of friends who had suffered through a stroke. That is why I jumped on board with the Living With Stroke program. It will give survivors a chance to connect with people who know what they are going through.”

Led by volunteer facilitators like Jennifer and provided free in several BC communities, the program is comprised of eight weekly, two-hour sessions.  Weekly topics include: impact of stroke, physical changes and keeping active; dealing with emotions and relationships; reducing future risk and nutrition.

“We offered the first program in BC starting last September and it was an incredibly rewarding effort. I met many stroke survivors and had a chance to sit down and talk with others who had gone through the same things as I did. It was reassuring to learn that others had experienced similar challenges and were willing to share their successes and come up with solutions together.”

The program is both a community-based support and an educational program designed for stroke survivors helping them gain confidence in managing the challenges of living with stroke. All stroke survivors and their families are welcome to join.

 

The next Living With Stroke program is:

Dates: Tuesdays starting January 20th

Time: 10:30am-12:30pm

Location: Okanagan Regional Library – Kelowna Branch, 1380 Ellis Street, Kelowna

To register, please call 1.888.473.4636. For more information on stroke resources and the program, please see: www.heartandstroke.bc.ca/livingwithstroke

 

 

Jennifer Monaghan is a lawyer by training but currently a stay at home mother of two kids, Tessa age 13 and Declan age 11.  She suffered a stroke at age 43 with no family history and no lifestyle reasons for the stroke.   This article outlines her efforts as a volunteer with the Heart & Stroke Foundation to help other stroke survivors deal with the challenges after discharge from the hospital.



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