Kate Ryan interview

What does it mean to you to be named a finalist in the Stroke Awards?

It is a great privilege. It helps me be grateful for my stroke and it means that I can be of service to the stroke community everywhere and indeed to humanity. I can also use my experience and knowledge to bring hope to others, using my story of survival.

Why is raising awareness about stroke important to you?

It is important because there is a real lack of compassion ‘out there’. Stroke is given such a small amount of attention in comparison to some other illnesses. It is considered ‘ugly’ or not in fashion at the moment. Raising awareness around what happens after a stroke and supporting people is vitally important. Awareness around depression and grief, family impact and the impact on other relationships as well. There is a definite and unfair assumption that the stroke victim should just ‘move on’. But awareness needs to be raised that it is almost impossible for someone who has suffered such a traumatic life event to move on after a stroke.

How do you think your contribution has made a difference?

My contribution as an author and speaker continues to make a difference because I have real life experience of more than 29 years as a child stroke survivor. I am teaching people how to live again with easy one handed ideas, this means stroke survivors can get back to living independently a lot quicker.  I hope to help as many people as possible live with dignity and freedom again; having independence in daily living skills was what gave me the most happiness. Also at speaking engagements I have been connecting with people as a support offering a message of hope. As an individual with lived experience I continue to make a difference by sharing my story and what I did to overcome stroke and be the person I am today.

What is one thing you would like people to know about stroke? 

The stroke doesn’t end when you leave when hospital. It affects every facet of your life and continues to do so forever. People need to know that the stroke survivor is still coping with huge changes and trauma.

Who is your favourite creative person?

My favourite creative person is Charlie Chaplin because he overcame incredible hurdles of poverty and lack of support from establishments. He became a huge success and used humour to educate the world. I particularly like the ‘message for all of humanity’ speech he gave, it was very powerful.