Community rallies around Lakeville woman recovering from stroke


Published on March 9, 2017

Several local community groups are rallying together to support Lakeville resident Julia Llewellyn as she recovers from a severe stroke.

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LAKEVILLE - Sara Lee Whitman is continually amazed by the kindness shown to her family after her mother’s stroke.

Her mother, longtime Lakeville resident Julia Llewellyn, suffered a severe cerebral stroke during a Christmastime visit to a daughter in British Columbia on Dec. 22, 2016.

The stroke impacted both sides of Llewellyn's brain, causing paralysis on the left side of her body and leaving her right side significantly weaker.

Whitman, a Dartmouth resident, and her son immediately flew out to B.C. to be with Llewellyn.

“She is a tough cookie… no way she was going out without a fight,” said Whitman.

Whitman’s sister took a month off of work to be with their mother, often making the three-hour round trips to the hospital on a daily basis until Llewellyn was able to be moved closer.

Llewellyn, who was fitted with a feeding tube until she was able to swallow solid food again, continued to experience acute medical issues for weeks after the stroke. As time passed, they started to realize that she would not be able to return to her home in Lakeville.

But they remained committed to getting Llewellyn back to Nova Scotia. Due to Llewellyn's condition, the family had to hire a private company to provide medical support for the 3.5-hour drive to the airport in Calgary and subsequent flight home.

They had to book first-class space to ensure there was enough room on the flight for a wheelchair, the support providers and the necessary equipment, Whitman said.

It cost nearly $16,000 for the flight home, Whitman said.

“It’s a lot to swallow with everything else,” she added, listing a $530 ambulance bill from British Columbia as another example of the medical bills they’ve accrued.

Through all of the hardships the family has faced in recent months, Whitman finds comfort in knowing her mother is now in a rehabilitation centre in Halifax.

“We felt if she didn’t make it there we didn’t know how far she would ever progress,” she said, noting that her mother is working hard every day to regain as much function as possible.

Whitman knows Llewellyn, originally from Annapolis County, is heavily involved in community groups, often volunteering her time to help six to eight organizations at a time in and around the community she’s called home for nearly 50 years.

“She has been part of Lakeville for many, many years,” she said, adding that her mother always collected newspaper clippings about rural communities in Kings County and she used to submit articles to the local paper.

There was never any doubt that Llewellyn was well known, but Whitman was still blown away by the number of people who reached out after the stroke.

“She has over 200 cards,” she said.

“She is happy that she does have so many cards and phone calls, and people are dropping by.”

Llewellyn, a retired teacher and librarian, has volunteered with everything from church and her local Women’s Institute group, to the Girl Guides of Canada’s Hardwood Lake Trefoil Guild.

With the stroke primarily impacting her mobility and eyesight, Whitman said her mother is still quick to remind her when there’s unfinished business to be tended to with one of the organizations she supported.

“She can remember everything,” she said, adding that her mother’s handwriting and eyesight have improved enough for her to be able to keep a journal.

“She’s always tried to help people.”

Now several members of community organizations and friends Llewellyn has supported in her 76 years are rallying together to help one of their own. They’re hosting a roast turkey supper and silent auction benefit at the Waterville & District  Fire Hall from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 11.

The proceeds raised from the freewill offering will go directly to Llwellyn to help with medical costs.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was in tears,” said Whitman, reflecting on the moment she heard the community would be hosting a benefit for her mother.

“I was just full of gratitude… it was just so gracious of them.”

For more information on how to support Julia Llewellyn in her recovery, e-mail saraleewhitman@hotmail.com.