CNI Stroke Program
2011 Hope Award Recipients - Lisa & Jerry Dowling
When Lisa and Jerry Dowling married on March 3, 2007, they already knew about supporting each other "in sickness and in health."
With Jerry by her side, Lisa had twice battled back from life-threatening illnesses prior to their marriage. In 2004, Lisa was hospitalized with a serious case of pancreatitis. Then in 2006, Lisa was diagnosed with a disorder causing blood clots in her lungs, kidneys and other major organs. Again facing near-death, Lisa recovered with Jerry by her side and was placed on a blood thinner. She required in-home physical therapy for complications, including painful neuropathy in her right foot.
Because of these issues, Lisa wore gym shoes on her wedding day. To show support, Jerry did, too.
In 2009, the couple faced yet another health crisis when Jerry found Lisa unconscious. She was rushed to Swedish Medical Center and treated by Christopher V. Fanale, MD, for two "mini strokes," which had resulted from clotting around the blood thinner she was taking. Placed on a different medication, Lisa returned home.
But within six months, Lisa was air-lifted back to the hospital with a subdural hematoma, a type of stroke involving blood vessels bleeding into the brain. At the hospital, Lisa underwent surgery with CNI neurosurgeon J. Paul Elliott, MD. Then, after acute rehabilitation with Elena Draznin, MD, she was referred to Karen Theriot, MD, at the CNI NeuroHealth Center for physical, speech and occupational therapies.
"I had consultations with each of my therapists—Debra, Terri and Dottie—to set goals and determine priorities," Lisa recalls. "They were amazing. Their encouragement helped me accomplish more than I ever thought I could."
With her therapy now complete, Lisa and Jerry continue working together to further her progress, taking walks. Lisa hopes to return to her job as a school teacher and plans to start biking this summer.
"I used to focus on 'Why me?'" Lisa says. "But then I realized I've gained far more than I lost. I've received love and support from so many wonderful people, including the CNI team. I'm a stronger person now—and Jerry and I are stronger together."
"This has been a long journey—one with lots of ups and downs," Jerry adds. "It's taken tears, faith, laughter and a lot of patience to get where we are today. But we've always had hope. And each other."
Established in 1999, the Colorado Neurological Institute Cindy Acree Hope Awards Celebration is named for Cindy Acree, who underwent brain surgery for epilepsy, suffered a stroke, exhibited tenacity and courage throughout her recovery and continues to this day to encourage the community to learn about neurological conditions. The celebration is also named for Cindy's daughter, Hope.
Past Stroke Center Hope Award Recipients:
2009/2010 - Allison Casias
2008 - Charles Louis
Read about our other Hope Award recipients