A physical strength and mental determination that pushed her through a near-fatal car crash that finally changed the course of her life completely. Internal bleeding of the brain, a torn liver and in coma with almost no chances of survival, Sarah showed little signs of coming back.
“The hospital wanted to take me off life support.”
Perhaps it was not her time. Perhaps it was the prayers of her parents. Perhaps she had to come back to show others hope. Whatever the hidden truth, Sarah did come out of her coma after 6 weeks, and was given another chance at life. Her second chance was followed by 18 surgeries, countless hours of speech and cognitive rehabilitation, and continuous physical therapy. “After being in coma for six weeks, I had to start over. It was like being a baby all over again. I had to undergo endless therapies.” January 25th 2003. The car crash that changed my life around.
Today, 13 years later, 35 year old Sarah remains legally blind, is not able to taste or smell, and has long term cognitive and memory losses. “The recovery stages took away the prime years of my life and even now I am still learning and growing as a person again.”
But Sarah’s determination to go on remains untouched. And although her dreams of joining the Forces was lost to fate, she chose to dream another dream.
“My life was going in a positive direction both at work and in my personal relationships. I had a good childhood, growing up with an older sister and a younger brother. I had three incredible female friends who stood beside me and do so, even to this very day. I was happy.”
But that was then.
“I just had to accept the person I am now,” says Sarah, ultimately finding her peace in acceptance.
While she now works as a registered holistic nutritionist advising family and friends on good nutrition and health, Sarah has found her destiny in giving back to accident victims at the Sunny Brook Hospital – the hospital where she was once brought back to life and taught to start all over again.
According to Sunnybrook RBC First Office for Injury Prevention which was established in 1986 within Sunnybrook's Trauma, Emergency and Critical Care department: Intentional and unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for people aged one to forty-four years of age and truly are a silent epidemic in Canada and most countries around the world. The office aims to prevent traumatic injuries and injury related mortality across all ages through community education, collaboration and awareness.
One of the programs that they run in accordance, works to highlight issues of pedestrian safety and works collaboratively with community partners through the Toronto Area Safety Coalition.
Sarah decided to become a part of this program for she had much to offer, much to talk about, and much hope to give out to other victims like her. She now volunteers as a motivational speaker to support other families living with distressing injuries.
“Traumatic Brain Injuries not only take their toll physically but also mentally. I decided to help such victims to let them know they are not alone,” says Sarah. “I want them to know, that I have been down that long road, but with support, it is possible to get through this difficult part of their lives.”
Sarah understand how deeply families get affected when a member of the family is involved in an accident. She credits her road to recovery to her parents, without whose help, she says she just could not have gone on. And that is the hope she gives to others. At a time when all seems a roadblock, when one feels they just can’t go on, Sarah is there to tell them they are wrong. That nothing can stop them from starting life all over again. For Sarah, giving up is not an option and she makes sure her voice reaches those who need to hear it the most.
As a living example of courage and hope, she visits rehab centers and hospitals along with her parents, inspiring the mentally shattered not just to go on, but to go on with strength and will, just like her.
Sarah also attends various high schools in the Ontario with presentations that help educate, inspire and motivate. Her presentations leave her audience with a lifelong impact, with students approaching her at all times to thank her for changing their way of thinking for the positive, and for understanding the consequences of choices they make in life.
“Many of the students still stay in touch with me,” says a grateful Sarah. “One of the high schools I attended a few years ago in Brantford, Ontario had an audience of several hundred students. At the lunch break the majority of the students lined up to speak with me and get their picture taken choosing to forgo a pizza lunch,” she exclaims. “It was truly an amazing day for me!”
“My parents have stood by me with unwavering support, strength and love. I value and appreciate life more now than before and I take nothing for granted. I am now living to give guidance to young people to make good decisions and right choices with road safety.”
Sarah: While you continue to work with young people and support families dealing with traumatic brain injuries, we want to thank you for the unwavering courage that you have shown in the face of hopelessness, and for passing that hope on to those who need to hear it from you.
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