Just Say Yes To Life – Stories of Thriving After Stroke


In this one-of-a-kind collection of stories about surviving and thriving after stroke, people from all over the U.S. tell it like it is about the tragedies and triumphs they experienced after stroke. They speak with candor about their worst days, their grit and resilience, and the profound contentment and unexpected bursts of enthusiasm they feel for life today.

About the Book

Written to give solace to current stroke survivors, the 26 stories in Just Say “Yes” to Life! Detail how these survivors coped, and which therapies helped them most. Readers will be inspired by a teenager who rebounded well enough to enroll in college a few years after his stroke, a physician who reinvented herself as a writer and performer, and a forester who created a chair the world’s never seen before, one that allows those who use wheelchairs to navigate rugged wilderness terrain.

Authentic, vulnerable, and brave, the tales give stroke survivors, and those who love them, hope for the best possible recovery and encourage them to never give up!

About the Author

After making it through the hardest part of her recovery, Stroke Awareness Oregon co-founder Lawnae Hunter wanted to put together a book to encourage others going through the difficult reality of recovering from a stroke to bring them hope and encouragement in their darkest times.

This dream of hers took four years to become a reality. Through this time Stroke Awareness Oregon commissioned Ellen Santasiero to build a team of writers to find those who had survived a stroke and they found a way to say yes to life and recraft what they knew so that they could enjoy life once again.


“It’s an honor to be involved in this project. Not only did I learn about the signs of stroke and its effects, but I am continually inspired by the courage and determination of stroke survivors who are prevailing over devastating odds. They are not just survivors, they are heroes. Anyone who has done the work to create a new, meaningful life after a stroke is a hero.”

Ellen Santasiero

What’s Inside | 26 Stories 256 Pages

“While suffering a stroke is a devastating, life-altering event that many patients initially imagine to be worse than dying, Just Say “Yes” to Life! is an uplifting book that teaches important lessons.

I would recommend this as required reading for all stroke patients who wish to regain meaning and happiness in their lives”

— Gary K. Steinberg, M.D., Ph.D., Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences, Founder and Co-Director, Stanford Stroke Center, Former Chair (1995-2020), Department of Neurosurgery,

Stanford University School of Medicine

Story Preview | A DRIVING FORCE – Alesha Goodman

by Jake Sheaffer

“I once threw a canister of my supplement powder at the wall and dented it. That’s something I can’t imagine ever doing before my stroke, but it’s just another part
of my recovery to work on.”


On an early October weekend in 2019, Alesha Goodman and her longtime boyfriend Drew hiked over 50 miles of rugged desert landscape in the Ochoco National Forest in Central Oregon. They were on a nine-day hunting trip they’d been planning for months. While Drew streaked up the steep slopes of sagebrush and loose rock, Alesha tarried behind breathing heavily, fighting the searing pain radiating from the base of her skull. An active thirty-four-year-old who frequented local gyms, walked her dog daily, and hiked on weekends, Alesha never suspected the severe neck pain and nausea she’d had for the past week and a half were signs of an impending stroke. And not just one stroke, but two. Two potentially fatal strokes that would occur within an hour of each other the day after she returned from the Ochocos.

An only child, Alesha was close to her parents and her grandmother who lived on her parents’ property later in life. As a kid, she delivered newspapers in her Bend, OR neighborhood, and in her spare time, she wrote children’s books for fun and read voraciously, prompting close friends to refer to her as a “living encyclopedia of odd information.”

On the Monday morning after she got home, Alesha sat in traffic at a parkway off -ramp, still in discomfort from the neck pain and the nausea. She had new symptoms, too, dizziness and feeling faint. Regardless of the pain, she readied herself for work, but she had an uneasy feeling about her job.

Over the weekend, Alesha had received multiple text messages from her employer, a jewelry company in Central Oregon, about an issue with her company email and password, but with no cell reception, she couldn’t respond to her manager’s concerns. After searching through Alesha’s desk for her email password and not finding it, but instead finding an important legal document she’d already dealt with but had not yet disclosed to her boss, the company hired a specialist to get around the digital safeguards. That day, Alesha was let go from her position.

Purchase the Book to Learn More About Alesha's Journey!

The Faces Behind the Stories!

Asa Pollard

“Don’t let the stroke define who you are. You are still in charge of your life even though it may look different than it did before.”

Marcia Moran

“Never. Give. Up. Ever. … And keep looking for new treatments!”

Angel Garcia

“Hit rehab as hard you can within the first year. Statistics show that’s when the bulk of your recovery occurs.”

Beverly Hall

“You will get tired and frustrated and upset, but your attitude is vital to recovery. Don’t focus on what you can’t do—focus on what you are able to do.”

Alesha Goodman

“I once threw a canister of my supplement powder at the wall and dented it. That’s something I can’t imagine ever doing before my stroke, but it’s just another part of my recovery to work on.”

Joyce Hoffman

“The stroke has given me more patience, more empathy towards others.”

Keith Taylor

“Find a new passion to move toward. Then move that direction. Once you do this, you will be on your way to an exciting and prosperous life after stroke.”

Tom Baniewicz

“You’ve got to work at your therapy every day at home, too.”

Angie Kirk

“I’ve never given up, and neither should anyone else.”

Jim Patterson

“Rehab is a rebuilding of the information super highway. It’s a reconnecting and rewiring of your brain, which I’ve learned through this process is one of the most amazing organs ever made.”

Roz Dapar

“You are not alone. Never give up. Embrace the person you are today. Celebrate every single step of progress that you make.”

Diane M. Barnes

“The myth of the one-year recovery comes from our system. Most everyone has a long recovery period. Never give up. Never stop looking for services. Never listen to anyone who says you can’t get better.”

Deborah McMahon

“I don’t like to bother people with my needs, but I learned I do need to ask for help.”

Ralph Preston

“Acceptance does not mean rolling over and giving up. It means dealing with the reality you have to deal with.”

Kim O’Kelley-Leigh

“You have no idea what’s coming. It’s a big unknown, but I was determined to make a full recovery, and take the journey with joy.”

Debra E. Meyerson

“Don’t give up on your ability to do something that is meaningful.”

Ron Lusk

“We are stroke warriors, not just stroke survivors!”

Steve Boatwright

“There is a future for stroke survivors. We don’t have to feel like outcasts. All of us can do something.”

Alan Wick

“You have to get professional help from a therapist in a style that suits you. It doesn’t matter what technique they use. Find somebody where there is trust and chemistry, somebody you can say anything to, and you won’t be judged. Spend the money. Get professional help. It’s crucial.”

Lawnae Hunter

“Life throws you some tough stuff, but it’s how you react that counts. I want to model for my grandchildren that you can get through anything.”

Michael Erwin

“I needed to understand that this was a brain injury, not a body injury. It heals on a different timeline.”

Orlena Shek

“Wash away the heaviness that lines The contours of your soul Until it’s as light as an alabaster sunset. Forest fires may burn amid a pandemic. During times like this, You fight to rewrite each story into a triumph.”

Gunner Mench

“I try a lot of things and if something gives me a positive response, I stay with it.”

Steve Van Houten

“If you don’t know that you can do it anymore, you just take the next step …”

Geoff Babb

“I discovered how much I wanted to make a difference.”

Monza Naff

“Don’t lose heart, don’t lose heart.”