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‘Your life is not over’: New book on stroke awareness features 11 C. Oregonians’ stories of survival

(Updated: adding video, comments from contributors)

Collection of personal stories to help encourage and raise awareness of impact of stroke

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Stroke Awareness Oregon, an organization based in Bend, is releasing a new book for stroke survivors and those impacted by stroke, featuring nearly a dozen Central Oregonians' stories.

SAO focuses on recovery support to bring awareness to the causes, symptoms, and treatment of strokes. It's the only group in the entire state that does this type of work and it's releasing a new book -- which is also one of a kind.

That's because it shares personal stories from stroke survivors, including 11 people from Central Oregon.

Lawnae Hunter is a business owner, mom and active community member. After she had a stroke in 2014, her life changed significantly.

"I could not even imagine what my life was going to look like," Hunter told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday.

Hospitalized for five months, she was not only a survivor but also a warrior.

"I think one of the turning points for me was when I was told by a physician that I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life," Hunter said. "I literally cried for days, and I was so depressed and upset."

Strength, grit, and resistance are what got her here today.

The effects of her stroke made her hemiplegic -- meaning the left side of her body is limp.

Hunter says her experiences and desire to connect with others gave her the idea of a book.

"You can have a good life after stroke, that your life is not over," Hunter said.

So Hunter and other members of SAO set out to find other stroke warriors.

Just Say “Yes” to Life! became a reality -- a book with 26 personal accounts from stroke survivors, 11 from Central Oregon.

Keith Taylor is one of them.

Taylor was a successful business owner when he had a stroke 10 years ago. He was no longer able to perform the same way, and when he was let go from his company, it was devastating.

"I was sitting there depressed, and literally thought about ending it," Taylor said. "Because I didn't know what I was going to do."

"It was a tough battle for a while," he added.

Taylor shared his story, both as part of his healing process and to encourage others.

"You have to go back, and it's an emotional journey," Taylor said. "It's emotional, I'll be honest -- but the emotions don't make it a bad journey."

Just Say “Yes” to Life! is written for stroke survivors, their families and the medical community. It was written by a group of volunteer writers, most of whom are graduate students at Oregon State University.

Hunter and Taylor say most books about strokes are purely for medical purposes. This one, they hope, is aimed at inspiring all readers.

"People need to know that they can get through this -- that there's life after stroke," Taylor said.

Just Say “Yes” to Life! will be available for purchase on Nov. 1. You can get it at Stroke Awareness Oregon.

Here is the full news release:

BEND, OREGON, October 25, 2021 — In Just Say “Yes” to Life! Vol. 1, a collection of stories about surviving and thriving after stroke, people from all over the U.S.—including 11 Central Oregonians —tell it like it is about the tragedies and triumphs they experienced after stroke. They speak with candor about their worst days, their grit and resilience, and the profound contentment and unexpected bursts of enthusiasm they feel for life today.  

Written to give solace to current survivors, the 26 stories in Just Say “Yes” to Life! detail how these survivors coped, and which therapies helped them most. Included in the book is a Bend teenager who rebounded well enough to enroll in college a few years after his stroke, a Bay-area physician who reinvented herself as a writer and performer, and a Bend forester who created a chair the world’s never seen before, one that allows those who use wheelchairs to navigate rugged wilderness terrain.  

Authentic, vulnerable, and brave, the tales give stroke survivors, and those who love them, hope for the best possible recovery and encourage them to never give up! 

Just Say “Yes” to Life! Vol. 1 is independently published and available at Amazon Marketplace in both print and digital formats and the Stroke Awareness Oregon Office through the website www.strokeawarenessoregon.org.

Stroke Awareness Oregon’s goals are to educate the community on how to recognize stroke, make F.A.S.T. a  household word, develop resources and support for stroke patients and their families, and increase awareness about stroke prevention. www.strokeawarenessoregon.org  

About the Editor  

Ellen Santasiero writes and edits content for a variety of clients and she provides editing and manuscript reviews to individual writers working on fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, plays, and academic papers. She is a co-editor of Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon, Vol. 1. In addition to editing and writing, Ellen teaches at The Forge, a ten-month online creative writing program. ellensantasiero.com, theforgewriting.com.  Email is esantasiero@gmail.com

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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