Cathy Hefkey is a stroke survivor. She was just 28 years old when she had her stroke, following surgery for a brain aneurysm. Hefkey is now the chair of the North Bay Stroke Support group, which is a chapter of March of Dimes Stroke Recovery Canada.
"We occasionally have guest speakers, but most of the time we talk about what's going on, and we help each other learn to adapt, for the people who have disabilities. And it's about educating people about ways to avoid having another stroke," said Hefkey. "Sometimes we talk about all the struggles everybody has, and we all help one another that way."
Roughly a dozen people attend the support group meeting, which takes place the first Wednesday of every month at the Royal Canadian Legion on First Avenue. Hefkey encourages people to take part in the sessions to 'learn how to be part of something again'. Hefkey says despite her stroke, she has learned how to drive and volunteers by visiting stroke patients at the hospital.
"Most of the people that come to our group have just recently had a stroke. I'm 18 years into my stroke, so I'm trying to educate and show everybody that you don't have to stay at home. You can come out into the community, you don't have to be alone, trying to figure out how to cope," said Hefkey.
Saturday's March of Dimes Walk and Roll fundraiser at Northgate Shopping Centre encouraged people to walk or use their walker or wheelchair to 'roll' around the mall. The event is North Bay's only fundraiser for the stroke support group. It also drew attention to the need for more education for stroke survivors in the city, at the same time raising awareness for people living with brain injuries, polio or other health challenges.
Pauline Berry, is a community services coordinator for the March of Dimes based out of Toronto. Berry says the organization provides community-based rehabilitation services and resources, for people with physical disabilities. Through its community engagement and integration services, it is able to assist stroke and polio survivors, by providing support, education, and resources.
"We try to provide information on healthy lifestyles or any new resources with regards to stroke recovery to the support group. Awareness is important," explained Berry. "What we promote is that you're not alone, that there are resources here in North Bay."
Hefkey says there is now a stroke navigator at the PHARA building who can guide survivors and their loved ones, to the different programs available in the city, including the Living With Stroke program.