Residents take a Stride4Stroke prevention and research

Jill Longhurst proudly displays her Stride4Stroke T-shirt

When Jill Longhurst of Kincumber awoke one morning in August last year with a strange sensation in her mouth, she didn’t think much of it.

But when she drank a cup of coffee and realised she had no sensation on the right side of her mouth she knew something wasn’t quite right.

“My right leg wasn’t behaving properly either, but I was racing to an appointment and just let it go,” she said.

But Longhurst soon realised something was very wrong and a trip to Gosford Hospital led to the diagnosis that she had suffered a mild stroke.

After treatment through the Stroke Clinic and some physiotherapy to strengthen her right leg and ankle, Longhurst has made a full recovery.

“I realise I am incredibly lucky and am now 100 per cent free of symptoms,” she said.

Longhurst is taking part in this year’s Stride4Stroke fundraiser, the Stroke Foundation’s annual physical activity campaign which allows participants to set their own activity goal to complete anywhere and at any time within the month of November.

Stride4Stroke is open to survivors of stroke, their families and friends and anyone in the community who wants to get active – at a safe distance and within coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic guidelines – and raise funds for Stroke Foundation.

Activity goals can be any shape or form, from running or walking to riding or swimming a set distance.

It can be a personal or a group activity challenge.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sharon McGowan, said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges which have impacted our lives and ability to maintain good health and therefore reduce our stroke risk.

“I am a regular runner and have found it much harder to maintain my exercise routine without a fun run event goal to motivate me,” she said.

“I also know that I am not alone in reaching for comfort food more regularly during the pandemic.

“But summer is on its way and it’s a great time to set a goal to improve our health, feel good and raise money for the Stroke Foundation in the process.

“It’s time to take our active gear outside of the home office and onto pavements, beaches and into parks!”

One in four people globally will have a stroke in their lifetime.

Stroke is a devastating disease that strikes the brain and can change lives in an instant.

However more than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by managing blood pressure and cholesterol, eating healthily, exercising and not smoking.

Every dollar raised through Stride4Stroke will go towards vital Stroke Foundation programs including the free telephone advice service StrokeLine (1800 787 653) and EnableMe, online support services which help survivors and their families transition to life back home after stroke and throughout the recovery journey.

The cause of Longhurst’s stroke was found to be high blood pressure.

“I am now much more vigilant in my medication regime, as I am now more susceptible to another stroke,” she said.

“When people have a stroke there are systems in place to support them, but survivors need even more help.”

Longhurst said stroke treatment was “very reactionary”.

“The only way we’re going to get a better understanding of it is to do more research,” she said.

“If we have a better understanding of what leads to strokes, we can be more proactive.”

Her fundraiser has already exceeded its original goal of $200.

“Hopefully it will go well beyond that original goal – it might even reach $500,” she said.

You can find out more at www.stride4stroke.org or donate to Longhurst’s page at https://www.stride4stroke.org.au/fundraisers/jilllonghurst

Terry Collins

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