Many who have suffered a serious illness or accident want to somehow help others who may be experiencing a similar trauma. Sometimes even the caregivers feel an urge to share their knowledge of how they coped, in an attempt to inspire and motivate others.
Did you know that in Australia one in six will suffer from a stroke? Did you also know that young children and teenagers can suffer from a stroke? There is even a case where a baby had a stroke while still in the womb. Recently I met a grandmother whose two month old grandchild suffered a stroke.
Once you have learned to accept what has happened and build your road to recovery, perhaps it is time to start thinking about how you can assist others face their demons. The more one can concentrate on helping others the less time they have to worry about their own suffering. Helping others is definitely a healing process.
So, how can you help others? Basically by sharing your story. You may decide to write a book or speak to groups. If you write a book, think about where you can hold a launch. My book, ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’ was launched at Parliament House, Melbourne, by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health. This gave it a great boost. The book is selling well and I do receive many comments that tell me that my story is making a difference to the readers. Nearly always, my book is then handed on to another, so each copy is reaching a wider number of readers.
When deciding on who to offer my speaking presentations to, I chose the Rotary Clubs. I wanted a group of people who were used to supporting and helping others in need and there are many such groups around. Also, Rotary clubs did not expect me to speak for too long (usually 15 minutes including Q/A time). This ensured that I did not get too bogged down and remained succinct and to the point.
Then I chose Libraries and wondered if they would be interested in actually buying one of my books because they could borrow them from the library. I was surprised that most opted to purchase a book (which I signed); they wanted to know the rest of my story quickly!
So far I have been targeting the general population and received some wonderful feedback on how well my presentation was received. However, I was quite surprised when I was asked to speak to a number of hospitals. The audience is doctors, nurses, therapists, allied health professionals etc. which meant that I had to restructure my talk to be able to focus on specific learning objectives for the staff, as the presentation was to be part of a medically accredited program.
It is also advisable to contact some of the associations set up to support those suffering from specific illnesses e.g. The Stroke Foundation of Australia and the Brain Tumour Alliance Australia. Some associations have specific programmes where they need the support of the general public. I have just been appointed as one of five Ambassadors for the Stroke Foundation. This will mean that I am prepared to present to at least 10 groups a year where, amongst other things, I emphasise the risk factors, the types of strokes and promote the F.A.S.T. programme. All of the essential information will be intertwined with my own story.
Don’t put off helping others because you don’t think you know how to. If you need some assistance, ask an association, or even make contact with me. I can try to help you get started. Helping others is yet another challenge for us to fact in our road to recovery.
Hints and Tips
Don’t feel that you have nothing to offer and therefore could not help others. I once saw a guy with no legs or arms talking to a group; he had everyone mesmerised. His story touched the heart of many and made those present realise that they really did not have severe problems when compared to him. By concentrating on what you can do rather than fretting about what you can no longer do, is the first step in being able to help others.
This video captures the excitement of the launch of the book ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’ at Parliament House in Melbourne. The video was made by Lifestyle Video Productions