My reasons for wanting to raise money to help those who have suffered a Stroke are very personal.
In 1967, at the age of 45, my mother suffered a serious Stroke. I was 7 at the time, one of six children. The impact on my family was enormous, particularly my father and my older brothers and sister. My younger sister and I were too young to really understand what had happened. The Stroke left my Mum paralysed down her left side. Thankfully, she soon recovered her speech and her mental awareness was not impaired, despite having to now face up to a very different and difficult future. Mum had very limited use of her left side, but through sheer guts and determination she learnt to walk again. Mum received a lot of love, help and support from family and friends, together with staff from the medical profession. However, the battle back to some form of normality was a very personal one. She obviously suffered both physically and mentally from the disabilities she was left with, but Mum was determined that the impact on her family would be minimal and she carried on playing a very active part in bringing up her family, as best she could. She and my Dad did a pretty good job I think, as we all turned out OK and my younger sister and I had the added help of our elder siblings.
Twenty years after her first, Mum sadly suffered another massive Stroke, which this time ended her life.
I wish I could say that my family's experience of suffering from Strokes ended with my Mum. Unfortunately it doesn't. In March 2011, at the age 73 and just six months after he fully retired, my father-in-law suffered a Stroke. To say he was a larger than life character up until this time would be an understatement. His stock in trade was his personality and his ability to communicate with everyone he met. Whilst there has been some adverse effect to his physical capabilities, the main impact for my father-in-law is that his ability to speak has been severely impaired. I think for a man like him there could not have been anything more devastating. Whilst he receives much love and support from his wife and family, his recovery has been held back by further seizures. Being much older now than when my mother had her first Stroke, I have been able to really appreciate the impact a Stroke can have on an individual and the immediate family. Devastating is really not too strong a word.
There have also been friends, colleagues and extended family members of mine who have also suffered in similar ways. However, I think by now those of you who read this will understand why I want to do what I can to help.
According to the World Health Organisation, 15 million people suffer a Stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled. Medical awareness on the causes, limitation and prevention of Strokes has seen significant advances over the last twenty years or so and continues to improve. However, to a certain extent this pushes the problems further down the line and more investment is needed in areas such as coping with the after effects and recovery from Strokes. So, my next small way of contributing to this is to run the New York Marathon on Sunday, 4th November 2012. I'm sure I will need to draw on the strength and character of both my Mum and father-in-law, as I pound through the streets of the Big Apple.
Any donation, no matter how small will be greatly appreciated.
National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke. Thank you for joining us to try and stop this devastating disease.