This is how I give back for my second chance: stroke survivor

Hasnain Mawji poses for a photograph."I wonder if I'll walk again," a thought that went through Hasnain (Hass) Mawji's mind repeatedly in the wake of his devastating stroke in February 2015.

Evidently, for Hass, that fear wasn't enough to stop him from overcoming overwhelming odds when the hemorrhagic stroke left him with a paralyzed leg and arm at the age of 44.

Not only did he have to battle paralysis, he also had to overcome the fear he would ever live normally again.

"That was really scary. I kept wondering if the feeling in my arm and leg would ever come back," Hass says.

But Hass' determination won out in the end. During his six weeks in the Mackenzie Health District Stroke Centre, he set big goals and let nothing stand in his way.

"I said to myself, I'm determined to walk, so I'm going to walk."

And he did, beginning with a walker and then a cane.

Then, for three months, Hass continued rehabilitation with visits to St. John's Rehab and Mackenzie Health's Cardiac Rehabilitation. While he grew stronger daily, there were days that a fear of falling kept him home.

"I was so tired of being afraid. One day, I woke up and said to myself ‘Let's do this'. I got on the bus and went to the mall," Hass says. "I had to take the fear out of my recovery. I walked around the mall for hours, alone, and although I was truly afraid, I told myself if I fall, I'll get up."

It was that same drive that inspired Hass to challenge himself even further by registering for Richview Manor's Strides for Stroke, the Foundation's annual five-kilometre run/walk supporting the Mackenzie Health District Stroke Program.

"I wasn't sure if I would cross that finish line, but I did, and with so many others supporting a cause that is very important to me," Hass says. "I was so motivated by all the people involved, I found the courage to keep going even when I was tired."

For Hass, walking has been a therapeutic and rewarding measure of success throughout his recovery. Each day since his venture out to the mall, Hass has challenged himself to walk new routes and longer distances.

Hass is so grateful to the entire team at Mackenzie Health for saving his life, he now volunteers on the Mackenzie Health Stroke Unit, helping fellow stroke survivors to overcome their fears and challenges as he did.

"This is how I give back for my second chance at life," Hass says. "I tell the patients, ‘I was where you are. You will get better, you just have to keep believing that you will.'"