In April 2009, Sacha Dekker was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy after having her first seizure in January of that year. In the years that followed, she tried over twenty different kinds of medications and combinations without any notable results. While her seizures were of the ‘silent’ kind, meaning they went unnoticed by others, over time they started affecting Sacha’s visual memory significantly, causing her to, for instance, have issues recognising people she’d seen only previously. As other options had run out, on 24th August 2015, Sacha underwent a right temporal lobectomy, with the aim of removing the brain tissue causing the seizures. However, something went terribly wrong during the surgery, resulting in a massive bleed to the brain that left her fully paralysed down her left side.
Sacha says, “Three weeks after the surgery, one of my medical team came to tell me that, based on the most recent MRI, it was highly unlikely I’d ever walk and live independently again and then handed me a list of assisted living facilities to look at. I decided on the spot that not only I would walk again; I'd walk on the Great Wall of China. Over the months that followed, I worked to become the person who could achieve that goal. There were times when my body was in more pain than I thought I could handle, when every day was a battle and people around me told me to just "give up and accept”. I didn’t. And on 24th August 2017, two years to the day after the bleed that destroyed the connections in my brain and changed my life forever, I walked on the Great Wall of China!”
Sacha went back to work eleven months after her surgery and continued her career in Learning & Development. Within three months, she was back working full-time and four months later, she changed jobs and companies when she was promoted to Senior Director Learning & Development for Oracle Sales and Partner Academy. In that role, she is currently leading a team of eighteen and travelling all over the world. Wanting to ensure something good comes out of what she’s been through and feeling strongly about giving back and giving others the opportunity to learn from her experience, Sacha is also a public speaker on mind-set and resilience.
Sacha is thanking Roisin Vance, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Neurology.
“I’m thanking Roisin because during the most difficult months of my life, when I thought nothing would ever be okay again, she was the calm in the storm and she kept my eye on the horizon. She pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of, but never beyond what was reasonable. She made me see that every day brought progress and every tomorrow was going to be a little better. From standing up for the first time to having the confidence to walk my first ten metres, there is no doubt that she helped me get my life back and for that she will always be my hero”.