Cane and Able Stroke Support Group Celebrates 30th Year
Members share challenges and victories through Beaumont stroke support group
At 46, Rochester Hills children’s author Brenda Yee experienced a stroke.
| (left to right) Doreen Putnam, Brenda Yee, Sheila King and
Lonnie Van Duyn at a Beaumont Stroke Survivor Conference.
Recalls Brenda, “April 15, 2002 was the worst day of my life.”
The stroke left her with mental and physical challenges including balance, vision and cognitive issues. She wondered whether she’d regain her writing skills. Before her stroke, Brenda was a voracious reader. After the life-changing event, she had great difficulty with comprehension.
“It was like my brain was struck silent,” she says.
The mother of two daughters felt cut off. This included school activities. This made her sad and depressed. “I felt alone, like I was in jail.”
While at a rehabilitation session, she was drawn to a few ladies who looked similar in age. Lonnie Van Duyn of Shelby Township encouraged her to attend an upcoming Cane and Able stroke support group program. Like Brenda, she had a stroke while in her 40s.
After attending her first support group program more than seven years ago, Brenda has not felt alone since.
“It may sound a bit melodramatic, but Cane and Able saved my life,” says Brenda, now 56. “I’ve made great friends. The support and encouragement we share with one another is priceless. We share challenges and victories. Most importantly, we laugh together.”
Community Stroke Program May 9
Beaumont Health System’s next community education program on May 9 will address stroke. Sunitha Santhakumar, M.D., director, Stroke Services, Beaumont, Royal Oak and Chris Kazmierczak, M.D. will present “Stroke Signs & Symptoms: Time is Brain.” It will take place at 6 p.m. in the Administration Building Auditorium, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.
While there is no fee to attend, registration is required. To register, call toll-free 800-633-7377 or go online at www.classes.beaumont.edu.
The Cane and Able stroke recovery group is one of the oldest and largest stroke clubs in Michigan. In fact, the group recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Adds Brenda, “The coordinators from Beaumont Hospital, Troy- Gwen Doolan, Joyce Fluegge and Polly McIlrath- have done an excellent job of creating a very safe environment for stroke survivors. The members are blessed to have their leadership. Their countless hours of work and support have helped so many.”
Nearly 22 years ago, Beaumont occupational therapist Joyce Fluegge told the group she would have to quit or bring her newly adopted son to the programs. She explained, “David grew up in the arms of so many loving members, while I facilitated the meetings. He still comes to all of the special events and is now a senior at Eastern Michigan University.”
Cane and Able meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Beaumont Medical Center, Sterling Heights (across from Beaumont, Troy). For more information contact Carol at 248-964-0660.
Says Brenda, “The support group programs are stimulating, allowing me and others to exercise our brains. They usually include a guest speaker. We’ve had some fun field trips including Tiger baseball games, Cranbrook, playing bocce ball and feather bowling.”
In the ten years since her stroke, Brenda has been working to regain her writing ability. She says her method of writing has changed. Outlines help her organize her thoughts and she’s writing more nonfiction. As with many facets of her life, she’s learned to make adjustments.
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A Beaumont media relations contact is always available. Call the main office from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. After hours, weekends and holidays, call 248-898-5000 and ask for contact information for the media relations representative on-call.