Battling back

Justin Dickie
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Heart & Stroke Foundation bringing Big Bike to Amherst to help people like Robert Stephens

Robert Stephens used to be healthy.

"I never thought I'd get sick. I never even had a doctor until I was 38. Once I got sick I've been sick ever since," Stephens said.

Battling back

Robert Stephens used to be healthy.

"I never thought I'd get sick. I never even had a doctor until I was 38. Once I got sick I've been sick ever since," Stephens said.

He's had two heart attacks, he's had a quadruple bypass, and he's been implanted with a pacemaker and defibrillator.

The 47-year-old been through hell, but he's slowly on his way back to a normal lifestyle.

"It's almost back to when I first met him. He's active. Sure there's restrictions, but there's a way around those," said his fiancÉ Cathy Hannah.

After Stephens' first heart attack in 1998, he was cleared to return to work. When he suffered a second in 2000, there was no going back.

"I wish I was still able to work. I know I'll never be able to go back to the job I had," said Stephens, who worked at Larue Steel in Sackville for six years.

He had the bypass done shortly after his second heart attack. After the operation, his heart beat irregularly, and congestive heart failure became a concern. About two years after the bypass, he was implanted with the pacemaker and defibrillator.

"The doctor basically said we can do this to improve his quality of life," Hannah said.

That it did.

While there are things Stephens can't do, there are many things he can do that he once wondered if he could ever do again.

"Three years ago I couldn't even mow the lawn. Now I can," he said.

He will also take part in the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Big Bike ride here on Tuesday, July 31, something else he wouldn't have been able to do before.

Stephens said research, partially funded by the foundation, and St. Jude Medical, who designed and paid for his pacemaker, are the reasons why he's still living.

"I probably wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for the research that's ongoing," he said.

"(I want) to raise awareness to the Heart and Stroke foundation and raise money."

If you'd like to join Stephens for the Big Bike ride, contact George Baker to register at 667-5548.



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Heart & Stroke Foundation, Larue Steel, St. Jude Medical

Geographic location: Amherst, Sackville

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