Stroke Survivor shares moving connection after meeting other Storytellers

Stroke Survivor shares moving connection after meeting other Storytellers 

On February 14th, 2019, hundreds of women at the Rhode Island Convention Center will be inspired when they hear from a new group of heart and stroke survivors.

 They will be attending the Go Red for Women Luncheon, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

 The American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, Go Red for Women, is a comprehensive platform designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.

 For Lisa Deck, a stroke survivor and National Go Red Spokeswoman, the event shines a spotlight on stories that need to be told.

 “Stroke doesn’t discriminate and time matters with stroke, you need to know the symptoms and take action if it happens to you,” she said.

 Lisa has had four strokes. Her story was shared at the 2018 Go Red for Women Luncheon. She is part of the Class of 2018 Heart2Heart Storytellers. It’s a group of women in Southern New England that share their stories about having survived heart disease and stroke.

  This program is made possible with the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), which makes a $25,000 contribution to the American Heart Association in the name of Heart2Heart Survivors.

 “When I stood on stage with the other Storytellers last year, I felt an instant connection to them because of what they have been through,” said Lisa. She has Moyamoya disease, a rare brain disease that causes the narrowing of arteries and can cause strokes. The name “moyamoya” means “puff of smoke” in Japanese. It describes the look of the small vessels formed to compensate for the blockage.

 Four years ago, Lisa had brain bypass surgery, which was successful. “It was a very, very challenging time,” she said. The good news was that the surgery allowed seven more times the blood flow to Lisa’s brain. She still suffers from fatigue and other issues that she lives with.

 “Taking part in Storytellers lets you meet others and be able to help others and gives a silver lining to everything that happens,” Lisa said. She grew up in Warwick and now lives in North Attleboro with her husband and their two children.  She is also on the Southern New England American Heart Association Advocacy Committee.

 Lisa had her first stroke at 21, the week before graduating from college in Washington, DC. While she was healthy and exercised, she still had a stroke. And had a second stroke just six months later.

 She moved home to Rhode Island to be with her family. She eventually was declared to be in remission and walked half a marathon to raise money for the Southern New England American Heart Association.

 Lisa became involved with the American Heart Association while living in Washington, DC for the second time. “The most important work I did was lobbying on Capitol Hill,” said Lisa. She brought stroke and heart survivors in to meet with legislators to share their stories for lobby days. Her work as a volunteer in advocacy for the American Heart Association in DC lasted for five years.

 “When I would sit with a legislator and they would learn my story, they were shocked,” said Lisa. Her work as a national Go Red Spokeswoman was satisfying. “It was exciting that people knew my story and would advocate for stroke awareness,” she said.

 To purchase tickets to the 2019 Southern New England Go Red for Women luncheon on Thursday, February 14th, please go to snegoredluncheon.heart.org. For more information please contact Go Red for Women Director Michelle Clark at michelle.clark@heart.org or call her at 401-228 -2322.

 “I feel so blessed that sharing my stories helps others and helps me to remind me what I’ve gone through and what I can get through,” Lisa said.

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