By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
IT’S THE small but emotionally significant difference between empathy and sympathy that makes Highton’s Dianne Speed a great ambassador for the National Stroke Foundation.
The empathy comes from Dianne’s experience suffering a massive stroke aged 26 just 18 hours after giving birth to her baby daughter.
She used the experience to become a StrokeSafe Ambassador, educating the community about the dangers of stroke and its warning signs.
Dianne said she was “embarrassed but proud” that her volunteer work attracted a nomination in the inaugural People with Disability Awards Geelong, to be announced on 3 February.
“I’m one of three nominations and we all have an equal chance,” Dianne said.
“It would be nice to win but if I don’t it doesn’t matter because I’m out there talking about stroke and it will help anyway.”
Dianne said she was using the nomination to further publicity about stroke because it was a hidden and misunderstood killer.
“Raising stroke awareness is important because it often goes unrecognised even though it is the second highest killer in Australia.
“It also happens to young people as well as older and that’s something not many understand.”
Dianne also volunteers with White Lion and youth organisations.
“I always like to put my hand up to do odd things here and there. I like helping people because so many helped me when I was ill,” she explained simply.
Some of her more interesting presentations on stroke happened at Men’s Sheds, Dianne said.
“The men are very interested and ask a lot of questions. I think they like my presentation because I talk from the heart and my personal experience – it’s not a doctor or nurse telling them what happens.”
Dianne said her message also reaffirmed that stroke survivors could live a normal fulfilled life. She works full-time at Journey Management Group in Breakwater.
“I couldn’t walk or talk after my stroke 26 years ago but here I am living my life like anyone else.”