Stroke survivor encourages screening for early detection

DianaOne moment in 2009, Diana Hannifan was the active and determined 36-year-old mother of two daughters who singlehandedly put in wood floors throughout her house.

The next moment, she found herself waking up on the floor in the bedroom, with an excruciating headache. Unable to get up from the floor or call for help, she threw stuffed animals against the door until her daughters, 9 and 13, found her and got help.

Rushed to the hospital, an MRI determined she had had a serious stroke that left her with significant left side damage. She lost her vision – which gradually would return over the following month. Her mobility was compromised enough that she needed a wheelchair to get around. She essentially spent the first three years in bed until her frustration with her sedentary existence prompted a change.

Hannifan slowly and painstakingly rebuilt her functionality, largely through exercise, including a stationary bicycle and an elliptical machine. She used rubber band resistance for arm strengthening and squeezed stress balls to rebuild hand function.

Recently, she found the Stroke Survivor Support Group at TMC, which is held the third Monday of each month from 10:30 a.m. until noon at TMC for Seniors on the El Dorado Health Campus, 1400 N. Wilmot Road.

As a young survivor of stroke, her story is different in some ways in that people often don’t immediately see the challenges she’s still working through, including lingering chronic pain and an aversion to noise. But at the same time, she said, “It’s been very helpful to see other people and hear from them about their own recovery. No one understands what you’ve gone through as much as someone else who has had to deal with it.”

Hannifan said while preventing a stroke in the first place is not always possible, it’s important to be vigilant about risk factors within your control.

Tucson Medical Center is hosting Stroke Prevention Saturday on April 16 to provide free screenings to the community for early detection and let participants know of their own chance of stroke and what kind of lifestyle changes they can make to bring down their risk.

Screening Stations include:

  • Blood pressure and pulse
  • Body mass Index
  • Cholesterol/lab screening
  • ECG rhythm strip station
  • Carotid doppler ultrasound for those in high-risk categories
  • Counseling station with physician or allied health professional
  • Consultation from a pharmacist
  • Nutritional counseling and resources
  • Diabetes education

Screenings begin at 7 a.m., with the last intake at 11:30 a.m.

As a Neuroscience Center of Excellence, TMC is nationally recognized for its neurological and stroke care. “At TMC, we believe in prevention,” said Maya Luria, director of Senior Services. “If we can save even one life through Stroke Prevention Saturday, it makes it all worth it.”

For more information about Stroke Prevention Saturday or the Stroke Support Group, please connect with TMC for Seniors at 324-1960 or online at



  1. I am a TBI survivor same as a lot of people in the united states, and all over the world. TBI which stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. which has the similar effects and consequences of a stroke. I have to give kudos to Ms Hannifan, for her accomplishments. Its a challenge I know Ive been through it…. so congratulations, to Ms Hannifan.

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