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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 January 2007, 01:44 GMT
'A stroke inspired me to be a nurse'
By Jane Elliott
Health reporter, BBC News

Cathy Evans
Nursing is Cathy's inspiration
When Cathy Evans had a stroke at the age of just 36, she thought her life had come to an end.

She was unable to talk or care for her young children, the youngest of whom was just 18-months-old.

For five years she was virtually housebound.

Now, 16 years later and after overcoming many hurdles, the former secretary has started a new career as a nurse and taken up her new post in a specialist heart and lung hospital.

Nursing

"I feel like nursing is what I was born to do.

"So in a way something good did come out of my stroke, because if I hadn't had the stroke there is no way I would have taken up nursing."

If I hadn't had the stroke there is no way I would have taken up nursing
Cathy Evans

Cathy said her own experiences of ill-health had made her a better nurse.

"I do have empathy for the patients. I know what they are going through because of what I went through.

"I can also sympathise with their families because I know how my family suffered when I was ill."

When Cathy had her stroke she almost had to resign herself to sitting immobile in her chair ever day.

"I used to just sit in the chair and dribble. I just felt trapped in my body."

She had panic attacks and was too frightened to leave her home, but with the help of her husband Adrian she enrolled for a course.

Graphic of head affected by stroke. Photo Credit: Alfred Pasieka/SPL
An estimated 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year

Once she had re-learnt how to spell, Cathy signed up for a counselling course and then applied to become a home carer.

Four years later she got a job as a health care assistant at The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust where she was inspired to start her nursing training.

"I did find it quite difficult at first because I had never written an essay before.

"I could not believe it when I qualified. I never thought I was going to be able to do it.

"I did not think I would ever get to this stage."

Cathy said she is delighted that her first job is at Harefield.

"It is like a home-from-home for me."

Motivated

Tracey Apps, critical care outreach services sister at Harefield, said: "Cathy is exactly the sort of nurse the hospital is looking for.

"She is very keen and eager. She is very motivated and empathetic.

"Before she went on her nursing course you could see her empathy and now she has the medical understanding as well."

Andrea Lane, of the Stroke Association said: "Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the UK and Cathy has shown tremendous courage in overcoming the effects of her stroke.

"An estimated 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year and I hope that Cathy will act as an inspiration to others, showing that there is life after stroke."


SEE ALSO
NHS stories: 'I had a stroke'
04 Oct 03 |  Health
Fruit and veg 'cut stroke risk'
27 Jan 06 |  Health

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