LIFE will never be the same for Janet Kennedy.
Following a stroke which almost took her life at the age of 42, the Ballarat woman still fights a daily battle to live her life happily.
Her story is common in Ballarat, with recent data from the National Stroke Foundation revealing the number of stroke victims is well above the national average.
The data, compiled and analysed by Deloitte Access Economics, shows there have already been 345 strokes in Ballarat this year.
The figure is startling, given the national average is only 220 people per 100,000 people.
“It’s shocking, but it can happen to anyone,” Ms Kennedy said.
“But people need to remember there is life after stroke. It will be different, but you can still live a happy life.”
Ms Kennedy was holidaying in Pambula over the Christmas break when she suffered a stroke in 2009.
She was at a newsagent when she first noticed something was wrong.
There have already been 345 strokes in Ballarat this year.
“Thinking back, I knew straight away that I’d suffered a stroke,” said the now 46-year-old. “I went to take my change and couldn’t do it. Then, when I was walking back to the caravan, my leg started to give way.”
Ms Kennedy spent a month in hospital before being moved to the Ballarat Health Services Queen Elizabeth Centre, where she was helped to get her life back on track.
“I was extremely depressed for about two years after,” she said.
“But I have been able to find happiness again. Everything in my life is harder now ... but I’m happy.”
The National Stroke Foundation report revealed regional Victorians experienced some of the highest rates of stroke in Australia.
About 12,000 people will die in 2014 from stroke and two-thirds of those that survive will be disabled.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol and lack of physical ctivity.
Stroke support groups can be found by visiting www.strokeassociation.com.au