Cindy Lewis’s face lights up when she thinks about Bridgepoint Active Healthcare. “Even now, when I drive down the Don Valley and I see Bridgepoint, it warms my heart. It’s such good energy for me.”
For the now-retired equity trader who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2017, Bridgepoint will always have a special place in her heart. It was here, as an inpatient in Bridgepoint’s stroke rehabilitation program, that Cindy’s road to recovery began.
On the day when her stroke first started, however, Cindy didn’t even realize what was happening. It was like a wave of exhaustion had hit her, though at the time she assumed it was simply fatigue. The next morning, Cindy went to work and noticed she needed to use the handrail to climb the stairs. Her speech was also slurring, and she had difficulty balancing. Still, Cindy downplayed the symptoms. It wasn’t until the third morning, when Cindy got out of bed and noticed her leg wouldn’t support her, that she realized what was going on.
“I think when it happened, there was a little bit of denial,” says Cindy. “In hindsight, that really surprised me because I’m usually a decision-maker. And here I was waffling about whether something was wrong.”
After being admitted to hospital, Cindy was transferred from acute care to Bridgepoint to begin her rehabilitation. The stroke had weakened the left side of her body and now the task was to help her regain her strength and control. Despite having some anxiety about what was to come, she fondly recalls how warmly she was greeted by staff on the morning she arrived.
“They were all so welcoming. Everyone kept coming in to introduce themselves and reassure me they were going to help me get stronger and better. It was not a frightening place to me. It was a place of comfort.”
Bridgepoint is internationally recognized as a leader in rehabilitation and complex care, where patients benefit from an interprofessional approach that coordinates medical, nursing and health disciplines to optimize their recovery. At Bridgepoint, Cindy’s days involved working with a multi-disciplinary team — from physicians to physiotherapists to speech-language pathologists — all working together to help transition Cindy back to her normal life.
Dr. Heather MacNeill, Medical Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at Sinai Health, was Cindy’s physiatrist during her rehab at Bridgepoint and continues to work with Cindy today to help her further regain and fine-tune her skills.
“Working with Cindy is amazing,” says Dr. MacNeill. “For me, as a physiatrist, you see patients come in probably at the lowest point that they’ve been in their lives. And then you see their friends and family rally around them, and the human spirit rises up. You see them work so hard to progress and do so well. It’s a very rewarding process.”
For Cindy, the feeling of respect is mutual. “Dr. MacNeill is just an extraordinary person. Every day she came in and she was so positive and energizing. She motivated me to want to get stronger.”
Thanks to the care and support she received at Bridgepoint, Cindy has been able to return to an active lifestyle and enjoy an early retirement. Grateful to the care team that helped get her back on her feet, Cindy always knew she wanted to give back. She had been working to raise the funds for a donation when her colleagues at Beutel, Goodman & Company Ltd. heard about her plans. To Cindy’s surprise, the entire firm banded together to help make a gift to Bridgepoint in her name.
“It was so heartwarming what they did,” Cindy beams. “I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
For Cindy, helping others is a part of who she is. It’s why she was delighted to share her story of recovery to help raise funds for Bridgepoint through Sinai Health’s 9th Annual Great Jewellery Heist presented by BMO. Cindy also donated a necklace to the event’s auction of one-of-a-kind jewellery, all created or donated by Canadian designers and collectors. The event was a great success, attracting a diverse and influential group of more than 400 supporters and attendees, and raising just over $485,000 in support of Bridgepoint.
“I feel very lucky,” says Cindy. “I retired at 60 years old and I have a comfortable life. There are so many other people who need our help. It’s just very satisfying to know that I can do my part. That’s important to me.”