Friday, December 1, 2023

Do you have an inspiring stroke story to tell?

A Strathfield woman who survived a stroke is using her story to inspire others to know the risks.  

Lillian Chen (pictured), a former pharmacist, was just 49 when her stroke struck in 2018. Her husband Jonathon, also a pharmacist, was quick to recognise the tell-tale F.A.S.T signs of stroke which stand for Face, Arms, Speech and Time.  

“He actually had a F.A.S.T poster in the consulting bay at the pharmacist. Stroke was something we regularly promoted at work through blood pressure monitoring,” Lillian said.

“Luckily, he recognised that I had facial droop and slurred speech and called an ambulance immediately which saved my life.”  

More than four years after the life-changing stroke, Lillian says she was motivated to put her experience to good use. She has since become a StrokeSafe Speaker and gives talks in an effort to raise awareness of risk factors, signs of stroke and promote healthy lifestyle choices.  

“I find it very rewarding, and after being a pharmacist for the past 30 years, I feel like I have very transferrable skills,” she said. 

“It’s nice being able to interact with people and dispel misinformation. Many people assume stroke is something that only happens to the elderly, but my story is proof that stroke can happen to anyone at any time.” 

Stroke Foundation is currently looking for people across West and South Sydney who are passionate about raising awareness of stroke in their communities. The organisation is seeking volunteers, just like Lillian, to join their StrokeSafe speaker program.  

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy said speakers often have a lived experience of stroke or a family connection, but they can also be current or former health professionals, or members of the community with an interest in health promotion.  

“Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability,” Dr Murphy said.  

“But 80% of strokes could be prevented by managing blood pressure and cholesterol and living a healthy, active lifestyle. 

“Our StrokeSafe speakers help spread this vital message in a powerful and moving way. They can make a difference to lives.” 

Another key element of a StrokeSafe talk is teaching the community how to recognise the most common signs of a stroke and to act quickly to access treatment.

The F.A.S.T test involves three simple questions: 

  • Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms – Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.

If you are a good communicator, have a willingness to learn and a passion to help prevent stroke, you could be Stroke Foundation’s next StrokeSafe speaker. For more information and details on how to apply click here.

If you are interested in booking a StrokeSafe talk, please visit the website for more information. 

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