June-Stroke-Awareness-Month June is Stroke Awareness Month

June is Stroke Awareness Month


Stroke Aphasia and Brain Injury Awareness Month

It’s June and it’s all about the brain!

June is a special month. Apart from including the first days of summer and the longest days of the year, June has been named Stroke Awareness Month, Aphasia Awareness Month and Brain Injury Awareness Month. What do all three have in common? It’s all about the brain!

Over the month, we will be profiling the people we serve, focusing on people recovering from stroke and those who are living with aphasia and brain injury.

Please take a look at the profiles to learn about how stroke, aphasia and brain injury change the lives of people, as well as what March of Dimes Canada does to provide support and how we’ve adjusted to make sure all people with disabilities have access to care and connection during these difficult times.

Pat Bell

Pat BellPat describes his stroke experience in stark terms. After the first one, in 1996, he was told he’d never work again. But he did. After the second, he says: “Everything was gone. I was paralyzed, and I had no speech.” He spent 11 days in a coma, and another four in hospital, before being released. A day later, he fell into another coma, which led to further hospitalization. From there, he went to outpatient rehabilitation. Pat had just turned 52.   

He’s come a long way since then. Thanks to family, friends, and his own determination, Pat has regained his speech and walks independently. 

“It was hard, but I’m pretty stubborn,” he chuckles. “There was too much no, you you can’t do that from the doctors and the physiotherapists. I didn’t say anything, but I thought watch me.” 

Pat is also driving again, which he loves to do. “I’ve loved cars since I was four years old,” he says. “There's something about the rumble of an engine.”  

It took him a year to get his licence back, but he did it. Five years later, he completely restored his ‘83 Malibu wagon.   

“There was a lot of thinking how did I do that before, and my right hand didn’t work like it used to. But I kept going. 

The Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia (SRABC) - affiliated with March of Dimes Canada – has been an important part of Pat’s journey. He usually spends Tuesdays with the aphasia conversation group and Wednesdays with the stroke recovery group, both of which he helps to organize.   

“They’re great,” he says. “I like everyone who attends, and it gives me a purpose.” 

Since COVID-19, of course, that’s changed. It’s no longer possible to hold our aphasia and stroke recovery group sessions in person – they've been modified to be online so Pat, and others, can continue to benefit from their skills development and the connection with others we all need right now. Pat is attending our online groups, and he still enjoys the cognitive activities, exercise and conversation, but it’s not the same. 

“Online is very, very good but I miss reaching people in person. I can’t wait for this thing to be over. It’s kind of like the stroke all over again,” he adds. “One day things are normal, the next they aren’t.”  

Pat’s also a big supporter of the annual Walk’n’Roll fundraiser, which raises money for March of Dimes Canada’s stroke and aphasia programs. This year’s Walk’n’Roll - which just kicked off June 1 - is online this year.  

For Pat, Stroke Recovery Awareness Month is a chance to celebrate the resilience of stroke survivors. “I helped myself,” he says. “It took a long time, but eventually I got there.”