DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year. Among them is a Lackawanna County man whose stroke about two-and-a-half years ago was so massive it nearly killed him.

This Dunmore man told Eyewitness News last May his goal was to walk his one daughter down the wedding aisle in November 2018. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller caught up with him again to see how far he’s come and the road to recovery that still lies ahead of him.

From undergoing intense therapy in May 2018 to being a big part of his daughter’s wedding day last November, 55-year-old Tom Notchick was determined to walk his daughter, Kayleen, down the wedding aisle some two years after he suffered a debilitating stroke. “And I did it. And I did it,” he said.

And it wasn’t easy. “Lots of anxiety, but I just looked past it and focused on Kayleen,” said Mr. Notchick who needed a little assistance. “I had the cane until about a third of the way down.”

But Mr. Notchick is proof that through rigorous therapy and a commitment to rehab, meaningful physical gains can be made by massive stroke survivors even beyond the first 18 months. “He worked against all of the odds,” said Geisinger Vascular Neurologist Ramin Zand, MD, MPH who recruited Mr. Notchick to help first year students at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine learn about stroke recovery. Dr. Zand said, “It’s very helpful for our students to do their medical, physical examination and see some of this physical findings that he has.” Mr. Notchick added, “Yeah, they get to feel my arm. You know, feel the spasticity.”

Mr. Notchick’s recovery has influenced Catherine Notchick, one of his three daughters, on her medical career path. She had an epiphany by his hospital bedside when no one knew if he’d survive his stroke. “I looked around and thought this is what I want to do. I want to make sure that I’m in this situation where I can help people that feel this way,” said Ms. Notchick who is now a Geisinger Neurology Physician’s Assistant.

Mr. Notchick gets around his house with relative ease and is back to driving. His mission: continue getting better and continue spreading stroke awareness in this life that’s worth living. “It definitely is worth living. To give up on myself? No way.”

Mr. Notchick has also joined a gym at Allied Services in Scranton where he underwent his post-stroke therapy. He also credits his remarkable recovery to his supportive wife and all three daughters including his youngest, Anna Notchick.

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