Janet - Our Inspiration

Janet Yeo at Riders Lodge, October 2010

I met Janet Yeo in October 2010 at the Riders Lodge 10th anniversary celebration when the resort hosted Malaysia’s Biggest Breakfast – Start Something Good – in partnership with the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM).  They not only gave away their breakfasts but generously donated all proceeds from the sale of Food & Beverage in 24 hours from 9 to 10 October in the resort, towards NASAM.  A box was set up in the lobby for guests to drop in their donations and stalks of roses given by a well-wisher were sold and the proceeds also donated to NASAM. 

After Janet had a stroke in 1989, she underwent rehabilitation in Singapore and the United States.  When her personal experience with stroke was published in The New Sunday Times on 8 August 1995, she was deluged with queries from readers who wanted to know more about her courageous journey to recovery.  She realized that there was a lack of resources to help stroke victims or stroke survivors, and initially started the Stroke Support Group where strokees received daily therapy treatments in her garage that was used as a rehabilitation centre. 

Strokees doing a Balancing Exercise at the JB Centre

This went on until the expanding numbers compelled her to find a more conducive place for rehabilitation work.  Through her own experience, Janet knows that brain damage would be less if the victim received medical attention without delay.  With the help and commitment of a few friends, Janet established NASAM a non-profit organization, in 1996 and the work has now developed into eight centres located in West and East Malaysia.  Now strokees, as they fondly called in NASAM, can go to these centres to receive rehabilitation therapy as early as possible. 

Strokees participating in a Breathing Exercise in the centre

Janet also wants to spread the message that stoke can be prevented by leading a healthier lifestyle and the importance of being able to identify the symptoms of stroke and how to respond to it.  NASAM aims to provide affordable and accessible rehabilitation therapy and to see strokees regain use of their limbs and speech, and enjoy mobility again.  Their greatest joy is to have strokees return to work again, enjoy a normal life and live out their motto, “Yes! There is life after stroke!”

Stroke is the third largest killer disease in Malaysia after cancer and heart disease and is the main cause of severe physical disability.  NASAM also organizes talks and public forums on Stroke Awareness to help people understand that a stroke is like a brain attack where brain cells that are starved of blood begin to shut down and die.  This brain damage often results in speech impairment, movement and memory but the brain is capable of adapting to change and over time, partially damaged cells may recover and start to work again. 

Strokees gave a commendable line dance performance
to the tune of, "I will survive!"
The thought of stroke may never cross our mind until and unless we have a family member or close friend who had suffered a stroke.  Victims are from a wide social spectrum that’s not limited to the elderly but may also affect people in their prime and even young children.  In fact, stroke does not discriminate against gender, age, colour or creed and it’s alarming that stroke is on the rise.  And when one member of the family suffers a stroke, the whole family suffers emotionally along with the victim and they need counselling to cope with the challenges at home and with the recovery process. 

Donation presented by KSL Properties General
Manager, Tang Ching Tong [Right]
NASAM’s eight centers located in Petaling Jaya, Ampang, Penang, Perak, Malacca, Sabah and Johor are doing a great service to stroke survivors in the cities.  However NASAM’s long term mission is to make stroke rehabilitation accessible to as many as possible, especially to the poor and those living in rural areas.  Janet the founder chairman of NASAM, who made a remarkable recovery from her stroke, is an inspiration and testimony that through proper rehabilitation, there’s life after stroke. 

When I met Janet again at NASAM’s annual charity dinner in Johor Baru recently, she looked elegant in an evening gown.  Among the items arranged to raise funds at the event was a Chinese brush painting by James Tan, a renowned Chinese Canadian artist in Vancouver, donated for auction by Angie Gallery.  When Janet made the highest bid of RM7,000, she not only raised this generous sum for NASAM but graciously returned the beautiful painting for a second round of bids that eventually raised a further sum of RM9,500!

Highest bidder for painting, Teo Chin Swee [Right]

To raise funds for the centres’ operational costs, NASAM has several annual events like the Food & Fun Fair, Malaysia’s Biggest Breakfast and a charity dinner among other projects and you can help too. 

Individual and corporate sponsors are encouraged to partner with NASAM to help with upgrading therapy equipment and facilities while volunteers are also invited to help with leading in cooking and handicraft sessions.

Cheques should be made in favour of NASAM and mailed to NASAM Johor Baru at No. 59 Jalan Chendera, Serene Park, Johor Baru.  For enquiries on the next NASAM public forum, Tel: 607 – 223 0075, Fax: 607 – 223 0076 or email: nasamjohor@nasam.org  For more info, visit website: www.nasam.org

Janet Yeo [Left] with Peggy at NASAM charity dinner, 2 March 2012

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