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Sharp Health News

Stroke survivor gives back through volunteering

May 29, 2018

Stroke survivor gives back through volunteering

Volunteer Robert Major stands in front of Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s rehabilitation center.

Sharp Grossmont Hospital volunteer Robert Major seems to know everyone in the rehabilitation center. As he walks around, he can’t go too far without someone coming over to say hello and have a quick chat. It is easy to see that this man, overflowing with warmth and charisma, has a special relationship with staff and patients.

Seeing Major in action, one might think he has been around the hospital for years. What is surprising is that his story with Sharp Grossmont began a relatively short time ago, when he was admitted to the hospital after undergoing a stroke.

Long-time survivor
At just 52 years old, Major is a two-time cancer survivor. When he was a baby, his left kidney was removed after doctors found a cancerous Wilms tumor. At 40, Major was diagnosed with prostate cancer and treated at Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s David and Donna Long Center for Cancer Treatment.

Since then, he has managed a few chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; these, he learned later, increased his stroke risk. In the days leading up to his stroke, Major had slight headaches on and off, but nothing that caused much concern. One day, in August 2017, when he couldn’t stand up straight or keep his balance, he knew it was time to seek medical attention.

Because he was home alone, Major called a friend who immediately took him to the emergency room at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. After a series of tests, doctors determined he had a stroke. Major was admitted to the stroke unit for four days, and then he was transferred to the hospital’s rehabilitation center, where he would stay for another month.

During that month, Major participated in an intensive rehabilitation program that consisted of six hour-long sessions each day — two physical therapy, two occupational therapy and two speech therapy. During this time, his therapists invited him to participate in the hospital’s adaptive golfing program. He enjoyed it so much, he says, that he picked it up as a new hobby and now golfs regularly.

Inspired to give back
Major has made great strides with the help of his therapists, who he says showed genuine care and concern as they did everything possible to help him recover. His wonderful experience at Sharp Grossmont’s rehabilitation center inspired him to give back by volunteering at the facility.

As a stroke survivor and rehab patient, Major says that he felt called to help others who are going through similar experiences. He explains, “There is no age limit on strokes. Because I have been in their shoes and am doing well, I can connect with patients on a deeper level and give them hope. That’s my goal as a volunteer.”

Seeing the glowing smiles on people’s faces whenever they talk to Major, it’s safe to say he has achieved his goal.

For the news media: To talk with Sharp Grossmont volunteer Robert Major for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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