Helping Others After The Devastation of a Stroke
When a stroke suddenly occurs, life changes completely – for the survivor, and for their families and loved ones. But what happens when you have a stroke in the prime of your life? For younger stroke survivors, adjusting to the new ‘normal’ brings with it a different set of challenges. How does a stroke affect family, employment and life going forward when the survivor is young?
North Bay resident Cathy Blanchfield was just 28 years old when she had her stroke 12 years ago, following surgery to remove a large aneurysm.
The stroke left her with permanent disabilities, she has no movement in her right arm and her hand remains locked in a fist. She is able to walk, but moves slowly and she tires easily. She is grateful that her speech was not affected, so the bulk of her challenges are physical.
Despite her challenges, Cathy lives independently, volunteers frequently, has a boyfriend and two dogs that she dotes on. Cathy has made remarkable progress in her stroke recovery journey, but was looking for inspiration and support from people who knew what they were experiencing – fellow survivors. Cathy wanted to volunteer and be somebody who other survivors could share their stories with.
Cathy started the North Bay Stroke Group, to help reach out to other area survivors and their caregivers. It began as a coffee group. It was only after Cathy connected with March of Dimes’ Stroke Recovery Canada® program and received support, the group was able to expand. What began as a meeting of five is now more than 12 strong every month and growing.
Understanding, compassion and support are the hallmarks of the North Bay Stroke Group. The group brings in keynote speakers to complement the social activities.
"We are here to help people figure out their lives, offer social activities and a friendly ear," says Cathy. "The group doesn’t charge membership fees, and there is no major commitment, you can come to as many meetings as you choose – we’re here to help," she continues.
The North Bay Stroke Group meets the first Wednesday of each month at 11a.m. at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23, 150 First Ave West, North Bay, Ontario. For more information please email
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-263-3463 ext. 7717.