Co Antrim teenager describes how suffering two strokes has inspired her to achieve artistic success
A CO Antrim teenager has described how suffering two strokes at the age of 18 has inspired her to achieve artistic success.
Rebecca Morrow from Carrickfergus is using her experience to raise awareness of the condition and urge others to "see beyond the limitation of stroke".
Just last week she won an award for her artistic response to recovery when she received the Stroke Association's 'Life After Stroke Creative Arts Award' at a ceremony in London.
Ms Morrow (19) was in work last summer when she suffered the first of two strokes.
"I'd just gone on my lunch break when my left side went all funny and I couldn't use my left hand to reach up and grab the bathroom light pull-cord," she said.
"My vision started to go very strange and I just couldn't speak."
Ms Morrow's manager spotted her face had fallen on one side and called an ambulance.
The teenager suffered another stroke on her way to hospital and was told she had had a transient ischaemic attack - a mini-stroke - six months earlier. It was later discovered the strokes were caused by a hole in her heart resulting in blood clots that had travelled to her brain.
"In the stroke unit it suddenly became real. I was the youngest person in there by a long way," she said.
"I know I made a good recovery and I have no visible effects from my stroke but I do live with extreme fatigue.
"I can lead a pretty normal life but when I come home, the overwhelming tiredness hits and I have to go to bed and rest."
Following her experience, Ms Morrow threw herself into raising awareness of strokes, particularly in young people, as well as fundraising for the Stroke Association.
She recently began a foundation art and design course at Ulster University and wants to pass on her love of art through a career in teaching.
"Art lets you be who you want to be," she said.
"At my former school, my art teacher said that my stroke was something unique that I could explore so I used a copy of my brain scan in my A level art piece.
"I really want people to see beyond the limitation of stroke and I think through art, I can explore how I am more than my stroke."
She added: "I'm really lucky to be able to pursue my interest in art and what inspires me the most is the one thing that could've stopped me".
Sharon Millar from the Stroke Association nominated Ms Morrow for the award in recognition of her art work inspired by her recovery after stroke.
"I feel that Rebecca deserves recognition for her obvious artistic talent but also the courage, determination and energy she has to campaign for Stroke Association."