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Newry stroke survivor adds their voice to Lost for Words campaign

Press Release   •   Nov 17, 2016 12:36 GMT

Bernie Fox during the 'Strip for Stroke' Calendar Shoot

Newry stroke survivor Bernie Fox, 54, is one of the hundreds of people living with the communication difficulty after a stroke.

Bernie had a stroke in 2014. She is one of more than 35,000 stroke survivors living in Northern Ireland.

Bernie said: “I had my stroke in July 2014 when I was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. I was at home, getting ready to go the hospital for a radiotherapy appointment and the stroke just hit me. My sister had arrived to the house and I somehow managed to get down the stairs and open the door. I had right sided weakness and I was unable to speak as my words were slurring. My sister immediately took me to Craigavon Hospital - my symptoms just kept getting worse on the way there.

“The stroke has left me with aphasia - which means I have issues with my speech as well as severe fatigue, which means I have to plan any activity well in advance as I need to sleep before and after! The stroke also knocked my self-confidence. I had been training to be a nurse prior to my illness and the stroke left me unable to continue with that.

“However, a visit from Stroke Recovery Coordinator, Valerie Dale changed my life. She invited me to attend the Stroke Association’s Young Women’s Stroke Support Group which helped me find my words again, and gave me back my confidence. I got to meet other young women who have had a stroke and their friendship and support has really aided my recovery.

“Their shared experience really helped me as before I could hardly speak - now I’ve spoken on Stroke Association videos and have been invited to speak at other events - it’s really helped. The aphasia still affects me to this day but I’ve learnt how to cope and how to use it to share my story and to let people know that there is help out there”.

Barry Macaulay, NI Director at the Stroke Association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Bernie have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. When we first started supporting Bernie, the aphasia left her with low confidence and self-esteem but since she’s been attending her local support group, she has gone from strength to strength. I’m so proud of her recovery.”

More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, a communication disability which can be caused by stroke. The Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors who are lost for words and make a donation. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.

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 one of the largest causes of 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