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Shannon Melinda A.


In May 2004, Shannon was a bright honor student happily anticipating her high school prom and graduation, five weeks away. The summer promised to be full of lifeguarding and band camp for the James Madison University Marching Dukes, where she would be attending college. However, an undiagnosed Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM ‐ a tangle of arteries and veins) in her brain ruptured and caused a massive stroke that paralyzed her right side and destroyed part of her speech center. She had to relearn to walk, talk, move her right arm, basic math and computers, as well as deal with a new, difficult to control seizure disorder. Yet, after months of intense therapy and two brain surgeries, her "puzzle of life" was once again nearly finished. She was driving and taking a few college classes. In March 2005, a brain aneurysm developed inside her AVM and ruptured. Suddenly, her "nearly completed 500 piece puzzle was 1,000 fragmented pieces with no picture as a guide.” This time, recovery has been slow and tortuous. Shannon has minimal function of her right arm and fingers, difficulty with word finding and short term memory problems. But always, she perseveres, never giving up. And while her path may be full of obstacles, she persists. After five or so years of hard work, she will graduate from a university this May. Her one wish? That people "would understand that stroke also happens to young people and how a brain injury affects all aspects of your life.”


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