Paying It Forward



The spring 2013 issue of Stroke Connection featured an online writing program for survivors led by Carol Keegan, Ph.D., a 20-year survivor herself. I enjoy writing so I eagerly signed up. Over several weeks, we were given themes on which we wrote two pages. The themes allowed us to explore our stroke experiences and their impact in our lives. Through the web-based program, I shared my writing with other participants and responded to their writing. The focus of this program was not on the conventions of writing, but the content. Using the Guided Autobiography approach, I was able to share my story in a safe, supportive environment. I enjoyed the program, flexing my creative muscles and reflecting on my stroke experience.

Reading other people’s responses to the themes made me realize my experience was similar to others. I was not alone on this road to recovery. The positive, supportive feedback we gave each other fostered a caring environment. I was sad when our time ended. However, the teacher in me wanted to know more. I contacted Dr. Keegan and learned more about the writing program. I did some research and enrolled in a course to facilitate Guided Autobiography.

My hemorrhagic stroke left me visually impaired with visual field cuts. I cannot work, but I do volunteer my time when I can. As I was finishing my Guided Autobiography training, I received a flier from the local Vision Resource Center where I am a client.

The flier was for a writing club they were starting. I called and spoke to the person in charge. During our conversation, I shared my writing experience, the Guided Autobiography approach I participated in with Stroke Connection and the training I completed. I was invited to present Guided Autobiography to the writing group at the Vision Resource Center. I am now facilitating the writing group in which we use the Guided Autobiography format. We laugh with each other and, through sharing life experiences, build community.

As the facilitator, I do not get to write or share my story, but it brings me more pleasure to share my knowledge, see the group gel and listen to participants’ stories. I am honored the members trust me and welcome me warmly.

While listening to the participants share their stories, I was struck with a thought: Stroke Connection offered me the opportunity to participate in the Guided Autobiography program. Now I am paying it forward by facilitating a writing group. In addition, I am grateful to Stroke Connection for introducing me to Guided Autobiography. As I continue on this journey, I look for other ways to “pay it forward.” I find I get more by giving than receiving.

DENICE DeANTONIO | Survivor

Fleetwood, Pennsylvania

 

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear. We have trained several members of ASA's national call

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

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Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!