Stroke Recovery Association of BC


Archive for September, 2014

Media Coverage for 7 Steps to Stroke Recovery

media_coverageIn order to continue to create resources like our new video, we need your financial support. When you decide to donate, you help build a world where every stroke survivor has respect, inclusion, and support in their home community. Please help to bring stroke survivors in BC back to life and support their caregivers by making a donation today. Full details are at the bottom of this newsletter.

Just in case you have missed our flurry of media coverage following the release of our new ‘7 Steps to Stroke Recovery’ video here’s some links to follow to see some of the newspaper and TV items we have been featured in. You can view the video here:

Vancouver Sun:

Global TV:

Breakfast TV:

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Interview with Angela Wright – From Wheelchair to Trekking the Mountains of India


Member of the SRABC Board of Directors, Angela Wright, was 38 years old when she had a hemorrhagic stroke on November 6, 2011.

“I thought the doctors were wrong, I couldn’t have had a stroke.  I felt fine aside from my excruciatingheadache.  I didn’t feel anything happen when the stroke occurred and I was alert, talking and walking unassisted, until the hemorrhage, which happened the following morning.  Even after waking up in the ICU back in Vancouver following brain surgery, I still thought the doctors were wrong.  Don’t only OLDER people have strokes?”

At first the biggest challenge she faced was left-sided paralysis – which was an even bigger challenge for Angela given she is strongly left-handed.  “Fortunately, when you grow up lefty in a right-handed world, you learn become fairly ambidextrous.  This helped a lot in the early days when I couldn’t hold a cup or anything with my left hand.”

Complications from contracting meningitis in the hospital, and a subsequent severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics became a life-threatening challenge for several weeks after her stroke.

“I was fortunate that I suffered no aphasia and also no problems with swallowing etc. Fatigue was and still is my biggest challenge.”

Undeterred, Angela worked hard to get back to her academic activities.

“In my efforts to continue to strive for a complete cognitive recovery, where no one would question my cognitive capacity, I sought out courses to supplement my MBA and years of experience.  I ended up studying with Cornell University, and completed 5 certificate programs in Leadership and Strategy, each consisting of 10-15 courses.  The online self-study format worked perfectly for me as I was able to manage my issues with fatigue. Having the flexibility to set my own schedule and work at my own pace was key to my academic success.”

Angela points to some of the lessons she has learned from her experience of stroke like ‘never give up on yourself; even if you’re hearing messages about all the things you’ll never be able to do again’.

“I made a decision early on that I wasn’t going to have the life the doctors were telling my family to prepare for.  I wouldn’t accept that to be my reality and worked until it wasn’t.”

“I have much more gratitude for what my body can accomplish now.  I recently trekked over 600 kilometers on a trip to India, Nepal and Bhutan and there were many days on the mountain when I felt like I might just die up there.  Then I would remind myself that two years ago I was using a wheelchair to get around, and I would be grateful for the physical pain I was in because that meant I was pushing my body and it was responding.  I don’t think I had that much gratitude before!”

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Interview with Tammy Kivi – Singing My Way to Recovery

tammy_kiviTammy Kivi, member of SRABC’s Burnaby South Branch, made an appearance on Breakfast Television on CTV, on Tuesday June ‎24th at 8am. We proudly watched her talk about aphasia and do a great job of spreading stroke recovery awareness. Tammy had her stroke on February 21, 2011. She had just had her 46th birthday.

“Honestly, my first thought was ‘Karma got me!’ I was suffering from chronic migraines the year before the stroke, which made me cycle up and down a whole lot, from depression to mania. I was really emotional and sometimes not the nicest person! So I absolutely believed that karma slapped me upside the head – time to slow this girl down, in a serious way!”

“Half my body was paralyzed, I couldn’t speak, but I couldn’t understand either. It was like I was dropped in a foreign country and didn’t know the language! Frustrating!  Then I started to embrace the silence, and feel my body’s rhythm, and be okay in my body….as broken as it was. I KNEW I would get better! I woke up every day with this new lease on life!  My sister promised me we would walk on the beach in Maui to encourage me to get better, and when I did my physio and took my first steps I was picturing my sister and me walking on the beach in Maui. That image carried me thru a lot of my therapy. Powerful stuff, those mental images!”

“I come from a musical family, my family has jam rooms in their homes. I love my family, but it was my good friend Alex Franson, the drummer for Underfire, that came to the hospital the first week and said ‘Sing! Sing as soon as you can! Singing is from memory, you already know the words, but when you talk you have to make up the words as you go along … so sing!’ Those words stuck with me. Months later when I was in Eagle Ridge Hospital, my girlfriend came by and brought her iPod. She put on one of the songs I used to do at karaoke and it wasn’t very loud, you could barely hear it, but I started singing along and we cried. Then my husband called Alex, and he cried too!”

Singing for the first time after her stroke was a huge breakthrough for Tammy. It made her think ‘I can do this’. She had no power in her voice but gradually she learned breathing again and her voice slowly returned.

“Being paralyzed also affected my lungs, diaphragm, vocal chords and muscles. I wasn’t breathing normally. I needed to learn to sing again, to BREATHE. I couldn’t hold a note. I would lay on my kitchen floor and do breathing exercises. I almost gave up. The guys in the band Underfire, they wouldn’t let me, they would call me whenever they had a gig, and invite me to come out and join them – they’re wonderful. My first song back on stage in my new life was Some Kind of Wonderful … the guys helped me through the lyrics.”

Tammy has never looked back and is out there singing with Underfire once again. “You have to believe you’re going to get better! Have a positive attitude, get up every day, get dressed, and show up for life!  Go to a stroke group, being with other people who have had similar experiences gives you a wonderful feeling of comradery!”

She even says that in some ways her life is better now than before the stroke. “I woke from my stroke feeling different! Sitting in my hospital room, feeling the rhythm of my body, hearing the sounds … it was peaceful. Now I’m happy, calm and relaxed. I got a second chance. I even have a second birthday. I call it my brain birthday, when the old parts quit and the rest of me kept on kicking! It’s a better normal, and I’m just riding the wave!”

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First Day of Class – Book Review

cheryl_beattyStroke survivor Cheryl Beatty is currently a volunteer teacher’s aide at an elementary school in Calgary, Alberta. An active member of a local outdoor club, she is an avid hiker, cyclist, and snowshoer. It’s hard to believe that at the age of 28 she lost her ability to do anything. Most people don’t consider themselves a candidate for a stroke when they are in their 20s, but that was exactly what happened to Cheryl. She was just starting a promising teaching career in 1994 when she suffered a massive stroke and after three weeks in intensive care, she was literally back at square one.

“I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t think I couldn’t do anything. I had to literally start all over again.” Her wonderful new book entitled ‘The First Day of Class: Learning to be yourself again after a stroke’ tells the story of her struggle to regain her life.

For the past 14 years she has worked with grade one and two students who need a little extra help. Her love for the classroom and for kids never left her so, after she learned to read and write again, she began volunteering at the Alex Ferguson School in southwest Calgary.

“She really helped my kids progress with their reading and they’ve also developed a love for reading thanks to Cheryl. She gets really involved with them. She’s great,” says parent, Dianna Mulla.

When Hildegard Bensler came to the school to be principal, she was unaware of Cheryl’s story

“I just found it remarkable that every day, come rain, shine anything, snow and when it was minus 28 she was there in her winter clothing early at school, preparing for her day here and at the door  before the bell,” said Bensler.

Just to give you a taster here are a couple of extracts form the book:

From the Preface:

“Ironically, Cheryl’s fairly young age at the time of the stroke was a bonus. Typically, people who are used to learning new things on a daily basis have an easier time relearning things after a stroke. Part of this dynamic is not due just to a person’s intelligence, but, also to their daily habits and work ethic. In particular, Cheryl was used to having goals. It was this goal-setting that proved invaluable in her recovery.”

From Chapter 4:

“At 28, Cheryl Beatty was in the prime of her life: generally healthy, youthful and full of enthusiasm. By mid-afternoon on the day of her stroke, she would be lying in an intensive care unit (ICU), hooked up to intravenous fluids, cardiac monitors and other medical equipment, being told incredulously, that despite being so young, she had suffered a deadly stroke. A teacher and a single mother, Cheryl fought hard to recover from the devastating effects of a severely damaged brain, and learned how to parent her eight-year old son again.”

Cheryl’s co-writer Carol Miyagawa is a technical editor in Calgary, Alberta. This is her first book, and she is grateful for the opportunity to tell Cheryl’s inspirational story.For more information and to purchase the book, “First Day of Class”, visit the website

First Day of Class: Learning to Be Yourself Again After a Stroke: A Young Woman’s Remarkable Journey to Recover Her Life

Authors: Carol Miyagawa, Cheryl Beatty

Publisher: C&C Publishing, 2012

ISBN                  0987812106, 9780987812100

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Merri Frodsham: My stroke story

merri_frodshamMerri Frodsham is on a mission to share her story. Since her stroke she has been working to help other survivors through communicating her thoughts, feelings and experiences of life after stroke.

“I went to the hospital to have heart surgery, to get fixed. I came back broken instead” she explains.

“I submitted my story to a USA National Stroke Association awareness campaign called Faces of Stroke.   From there I was contacted by other stroke survivors and given different ideas on places to share the story for awareness.

I am from the southwestern United States however my husband is from Ottawa Ontario.   We live half-time in the USA and 1/2 time in Canada.   I know from experience that strokes and head injuries are among those illnesses that are very misunderstood.  If I can help just one person through their challenges sharing my experience is worth it.”

Merri contacted SRABC through our website at  and sent us two links to her whole ‘Faces of Stroke’ article. She pulls no punches and tells it like it is. Her story is full of courage, honesty and hope. For Merri, and thousands like her, there is life after stroke.

Here’s an excerpt from her story:

“My stroke story begins with me saying with tear filled eyes and a lump in my throat, “Mommy has to go to the doctor for a few days, they are going to fix my heart so I can run, climb trees, play hide-n-go seek and other fun stuff with you girls,” to my then almost 6 year old, 4 year old and almost 2 year old daughters. On September 18, 1992 I suffered a brain hemorrhage, a complication during heart surgery, at the age of 23.”

To read the whole story go here:


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