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Richard (Dick) L. Burns

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Drop cap Dick Burns, 81, knows what it’s like to be a stroke survivor—he has been one since 1968.

Burns’ cerebral hemorrhage knocked him down at the age of 38. Unsure what to do for him, doctors were ready to give up on him. “My obituary was written,” he says. But Burns was truly a survivor—he woke up from his coma the next day and began his long road to recovery. “The next morning arrived and so did I,” he says.

Burns underwent physical and mental exams, including EKGs, blood tests and a painful angiogram, designed to probe for the cause of his stroke and the damage it had done.

He saw several different doctors at four different hospitals and says that the “experiments” he endured “didn’t always work.” As for recovery, physical therapy was not offered at the time.

The stroke left Burns with left-side paralysis and extreme difficulty walking and talking. It was 10 years before he could hold something in his left hand. “Life was a dead end,” says Burns. But after a time, he came to realize that life was worth living and that he would fight for it.

Burns describes his recovery as a slow progression, but three years after his stroke, he returned to work in nonprofit development and fundraising. Once a Madison Avenue broadcast and advertising executive, Burns made a post-stroke career in jobs such as retail marketing, management consulting, public relations, teaching and speaking.

His book, Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck, inspires other stroke survivors to persevere. “Nothing is impossible if you hope,” he says.

» Order Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck online or call 1-800-266-5504 or 1-800-247-6553.

» Read Dick's blog called Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck.

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National Stroke Awareness Month is supported by funding provided by Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc and Genentech, Inc.

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