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Stroke Survivor Sets Out to Inspire Others

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Aug 10 2017

Cindy Chenier was the picture of health; had excellent blood pressure and was an aerobics instructor in Atlanta while also doing philanthropic work for causes she believed in.

Suddenly, on Feb. 15, 2011 she felt light-headed while in an aerobics class. Her head ached from what she suspected was a migraine. She called her sister, who is a nurse, and she immediately recognized that Chenier’s speech was slurring.

At 47, Chenier experienced a stroke which left her paralyzed on her right side, unable to walk or talk, and landed her in the hospital for a week and in a rehab facility in Warm Springs, Ga. that was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“I had the stroke because of a protein C deficiency—a genetic disorder that makes blood clots in your system,” said Chenier. “It’s hereditary and now I want to educate people about this deficiency and prevention. It’s important to get my story out there and see the silver lining.”

Her arm remains weak and her fingers are affected by spasticity but she jogs to stay in shape and now has set her sights on participating in the National Stroke Association’s Comeback Trail 5K walk/fun run on Oct. 7 in the Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta.

“I’ll put a team together, as I want to inspire people,” said Chenier. “God saved me to inspire other people. That’s my calling—to help other people.”

Chenier also is organizing an expo next year called the Health Education Humor Expo, or the acronym HE HE, she laughs. It’ll bring together healthcare professionals, vendors and local comedians to help stroke survivors and caregivers.

“Humor has been the positive in my life,” said Chenier. “My family is always laughing and that’s where I get it from. Humor makes it all go away in a split second and laughter really is the best medicine.”

She also draws her inspiration from music, particularly the song, Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion, which features the chorus, “You gave me strength when I was weak. You were my voice when I couldn’t speak.  . . .  You saw the best in me.”

“I can help other people because I know what it is like to be in the bed—not being able to talk or walk. That’s why that Celine Dion song helped me. And now my silver lining is living with a new normal.”

To join Cindy on the Comeback Trail in Atlanta, register here.


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