By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Staff Volunteer
“We’re survivors, NOT victims.”
Our society needs to take the word “victim” out of its vocabulary when it comes to stroke.
If you've had a stroke, you are a survivor, NOT a victim. When you think of yourself as a victim, that hurts your recovery. It distracts you from focusing on the present and the future, where all your energy needs to directed.
If you're a caregiver, your loved one is a survivor, NOT a victim. When you think of them as a victim, that affects how you aid them in their recovery. It distracts you from focusing on the present and the future, where all your energy needs to directed. (Yes, that's a repeat of the above!)
I admit that I blow a gasket whenever I see "victim" in a news headline about stroke. I cringe when I hear medical professionals refer to survivors as victims, and when I can gently correct them, I do so with a smile. When I hear a caregiver refer to their loved one as a victim, I follow up with how "your SURVIVOR …" And when I hear a survivor refer to themselves as a victim, I boldly say, "You are a SURVIVOR!"
That statement, "We're survivors, NOT victims," was expressed during one of the first survivor discussion groups I participated in at Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp in 2008. And I've never forgotten it.
And I never, never forget it when I volunteer at a Stroke Camp because I get to witness survival at its finest. I am exposed to so much life and the real purpose of living that I have been forever transformed by it. Stroke Camp leads the way when it comes to the true meaning of life with an abundance of love, connections, laughter, personal expression, creativity, the right kind of tears, and the hugs, oh yes, the hugs.
Here are just a tiny, tiny sampling of the faces of survivors who have surrounded me with so much life and love this year … Not enough room to share them all! :-)