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Shaking Up STROKE 2018: An Understudy Disruptor illuminates stories with a Dash of Fancypants Humor

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The stage was set at the Sydney Convention Centre for STROKE 2018, a gathering of minds dedicated to exploring the intricacies of stroke and its aftermath. Amidst the serious discussions and in-depth research, I found a chance to sprinkle a bit of humour, share my lived experience, and ignite conversations that mattered.


When the Unexpected Becomes the Highlight

As I took my place at the podium for the breakout session, there was a glint of mischief in my eye. I decided to play a little trick on the audience, claiming to be the understudy for the renowned Emma Gee, a stroke survivor and author who couldn't make it due to illness. With a well-placed slide bearing her name, I teased the crowd into believing they were about to witness Emma's journey. Little did they know, the joke was on them – a stroke survivor's humorous twist that set the tone for an impactful session.


Real Stories, Real Impact

Amid the chuckles, my narrative unfolded – a personal account of survival, recovery, and the struggles life throws post-stroke. My mission was clear: to make the health professionals, researchers, and academics in the room realize the weight of their words and actions. Through my journey as an inpatient and outpatient, I aimed to show them how their language and strategies could either heal or harm. Every heartfelt word was a reminder that the human connection transcends clinical data.


A Packed Room, A Shared Purpose

Our breakout room was filled to the brim, an intimate gathering that echoed with a desire for change. Sharing the stage with esteemed individuals like Professor Natasha Lannin and Avril Drummond was a privilege. Together, we aimed to amplify the voices of stroke survivors, reminding the world that we're more than statistics – we're fighters, dreamers, and victors against the odds.


A Keynote That Stirred Souls

In the midst of it all, Sue Bowden, a fellow stroke survivor and cherished member of the Genyus Network, stepped into the spotlight. She took the stage for a full conference keynote, baring her soul and sharing her journey with a vulnerability that left everyone moved. Sue's story wasn't just a presentation; it was a journey of resilience and raw emotion that touched hearts and opened minds. Her courage reverberated throughout the audience, reminding us all of the incredible power of sharing our stories. Sue's bravery, along with that of countless others like her, is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. They offer pieces of themselves to light the way for others, proving that adversity can be transformed into a force for change. We're indebted to these brave souls who give so selflessly, enriching the lives of those who follow in their footsteps.


Leaving a Mark with Laughter and Learning

STROKE 2018 may have been fleeting, but it left an indelible impression. From the unexpected humour that bridged gaps to the heartfelt stories that united us all, it was a reminder of the power of genuine connection. As I gazed out at the faces in the room, I knew that each smile, each nod, and each shared moment was a step toward rewriting the narrative of stroke survival.


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