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When Illness Becomes Wellness, Part 1


Reflections on the CHOP Pediatric Stroke Conference

This week on the blog we are going to highlight two of our North Carolina You’re the Cure volunteers as they share their stories from speaking at the Pediatric Stroke Conference at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Today’s post is from Mary Kay Ballasiotes who is a long time You’re the Cure volunteer and is mother to Michelle, a stroke survivor.  To read Michelle's reflections on the conference, click here.

On Sunday, November 10, 2013 my daughter Michelle and I had the honor of speaking at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) “Pediatric Stroke Conference.” We met some incredible families and teen stroke survivors, some of whom drove for hours to attend. There truly is a need for community support for the families affected by pediatric stroke.

My presentation discussed advocacy not only for the child affected by pediatric stroke, but how to be an effective advocate for all children. I discussed how it requires a team effort with parents serving as “coach” to find the “team members” necessary to navigate through an unknown path to help their child reach their full potential. The team approach is also needed in advocating for the entire pediatric stroke population and there are many ways for individuals and families to get involved at any level. A quote by Sushan R. Sharma puts this into perspective: “When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘We’, even ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness’”.

My years as an American Heart/American Stroke Association volunteer have given me the opportunities and experience to encourage others to get involved in the mission to educate and raise awareness that strokes can happen to babies, children and even the unborn. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to meet these special families, hear their stories and perhaps give them hope that they are not alone. It is a very humbling experience and I am always looking for more opportunities to educate and raise awareness.

The PowerPoint slides from the conference will be posted on the CHOP website soon. However, in the meantime, please visit the International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke (IAPS) website at for the most comprehensive, accurate and reliable information for pediatric stroke. There are ideas for how you can get involved on the “How You Can Help” page. Everything on the site is reviewed by the doctors on the Board. You can also “Like” IAPS on Facebook, “International Alliance for Pediatric Stroke.”

To learn more about other advocates like Mary Kay join our You’re the Cure network and get involved in our advocacy efforts.  You can sign up by clicking here.

Thanks to Mary Kay Ballasiotes, You’re the Cure Advocate, for writing this blog post. 

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