Mum of one, Anna Higgs, 35, from Harlow, is supporting the Stroke Association’s East of England Hidden Project, after having a devastating stroke at the age of 24, one month after giving birth to her son Henry.
Anna was celebrating Christmas with family and friends when she had her stroke. Anna explains: "Christmas day we were all round partying at my dad’s house and all of a sudden I just came over all funny. They thought I was drunk, so took me home and put me to bed. It wasn't until the next day until my sister came round they realised something was seriously wrong."
Anna's son Henry was just one month old when Anna had a devastating stroke which affected her speech, her mobility and the chance to share the most precious days with her new-born son.
Anna soon conquered her stroke, and began to work on her rehabilitation whilst bringing her son up. Anna had to teach herself how to do all of her daily tasks one handed, like changing Henry’s nappy and getting herself dressed. With the support from her parents and her partner Craig, Anna worked tirelessly not to give up.
Anna’s stroke has left her with right sided weakness, and blind in her right eye. Anna adds: “I was determined to not let my stroke stop me. I believe there is life after stroke, but more awareness around the dreadful condition needs to be raised. I now have a very active 10 year old son who is extremely supportive, two amazing parents and partner, Craig, who have helped me every step of the way, and a fun filled life. My passion and hobby is burlesque dance, it helped me regain confidence and keeps me active!”
Anna is a volunteer for the Stroke Association, sharing her experiences with other stroke survivors and offering a helping hand.
Anna is one of the stroke survivors who will be the subject of a powerful new photography exhibition called the Hidden Project, which will be displayed High House Production Park this month.
The group of stroke survivors have posed to highlight the devastating effects of stroke, using the colour purple to depict how each individual has been affected differently.
Anna adds: “As four working age stroke survivors, we wanted to make an impact to the public to show that whilst we’ve had our strokes, and we have different hidden effects following our strokes, together we can conquer stroke. I hope that from this project, more people realise that stroke can happen in instant, but the effects can last a lifetime. Although I may look well and fine, I have a daily battle with the effects of my stroke.”
Tracy Groves, Regional Information Officer for the Stroke Association in the East of England said: “I am so proud of my team of volunteers for being part of this special creation. On a daily basis I hear how heart breaking it is for stroke survivor’s hidden effects to be ignored.
“Through these powerful images, we hope to raise awareness of stroke across the East of England. A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die. It can happen out of the blue and be very frightening. Stroke is one of greatest health challenges of our time, with 152,000 strokes happening in the UK every year, and being the leading cause of adult disability in the UK.
“Stroke survivors can struggle with everyday tasks like making a cup of tea, taking a shower or reading the paper. Even talking or communicating with friends and family can be a challenge. A stroke can affect people’s confidence as many survivors feel embarrassed when they can’t remember things or they forget words, or because of the physical effects of their stroke.
“We’re there every step of the way helping survivors and their families deal with the practical and emotional impacts of stroke. We believe in life after stroke and value each person’s victories on the road to recovery.”
The images of Anna and her family will be showcased at the Thurrock Stroke Art Exhibition on Tuesday 18 August from 2pm until 6pm at High House Production Park, Vellacott Close, Essex.
A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk