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Hearing from Survivors 

A locally produced book highlights the experience of those who have had a stroke, and what they've learned

Stroke Awareness Oregon is a Bend-based nonprofit, co-founded by local real estate professional Lawnae Hunter following her own stroke, along with co-founder Dr. Steve Goins. The nonprofit has a mission to educate community members and to eliminate the disability and death that can result from strokes.

Recently, SAO created a book, "Just Say 'Yes' to Life!" featuring stories of people who are thriving after experiencing a stroke. In honor of this week's Health and Fitness issue, Hunter shared some of the background details about the book—which is already an Amazon bestseller.

click to enlarge The book is available through the Stroke Awareness Oregon web store. - STROKE AWARENESS OREGON
  • Stroke Awareness Oregon
  • The book is available through the Stroke Awareness Oregon web store.

Source Weekly: Briefly describe the book and who might benefit from reading it.

Lawnae Hunter: The book was written to give hope and encouragement to stroke survivors, caregivers and family members... also directed to therapists that treat stroke patients to help them get into the head of a stroke survivor.

SW: Why was it important to you to get the book out into the world?

LH: Having a stroke or debilitating medical event can lead to depression and hopelessness. After I had my stroke I just wanted to talk to someone that had been on this journey, had rebuilt a life and wanted to live life to the fullest again. This is the first book like this SAO could find, so collectively we wanted to reach out to the stroke community nationally.

SW: The book has already seen some success out there. Tell us about that.

LH: So far "Life" has gotten an Amazon bestseller designation, with little marketing outside of Oregon. It is available on Kindle and printed on Amazon or from the local SAO office. Copies have been sold internationally in the U.K. and Australia. We have a sequel, a caregiver book, because many times the caregivers need as much or more support. We say caregiving is the hardest job you never applied for! !

SW: This period we are in has a lot of people thinking about their health and ways they can stay healthier. How do you see this book helping people in their health journeys?

LH: Each story shows that there truly is no excuse to ways you can better yourself. Each individual had different effects of stroke, yet many of us still go to therapy four times a week just to get a little bit more movement in a single finger. For people looking into diets and new lifestyles, this'll be strong examples of just what commitment looks like. Everyone needs to understand the signs of stroke and "time is brain"— get to the ER immediately with possible stroke symptoms.

SW: There are quite a few stories of inspiring local people in the book. Can you share one that stands out for you?

LH: Kim OKelly-Leigh had an upbringing many dream of in terms of shining in Hollywood, being on Broadway, singing with The Byrds... her stroke is just a prime example of that it can happen to absolutely anyone, despite the fact that they walk among the spotlight.

SW: Anything else you'd like to add?

LH: We searched across the U.S. to find a wide range of ages, and incredible stories. There are five or six people under 40 that had strokes. A myth is stroke is an elderly disease—that is false... 34% of strokes affect people under 60. The editor [of the book, Ellen Santasiero] assembled a team of nine volunteer writers to interview and write the stories—Ellen did an amazing job. .

The "Just Say 'Yes' to Life book is available at store.strokeawarenessoregon.org/.

More information on Stroke Awareness Oregon is available by visiting strokeawarenessoregon.org.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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