Letter to Harpo

Written October 11, 2007

Harpo Productions
PO Box 909715
Chicago, IL 60607


Dear Oprah;


Thank you and your girls from the bottom of my *renewed* heart. I am a stroke survivor and have 152 incredible girls from your school to thank for getting me through perhaps the toughest challenge of my life. Your 152 girls in South Africa have changed my attitude and outlook and have been the driving force to direct me on a new journey moving forward in my life. I believe it was no accident one evening earlier this year when I came across your prime time special on your Leadership Academy for Girls. That show, and those 152 girls, resonated so deeply with me that they have changed my direction in life and my determination to make a difference.


I have completed the physical part of my recovery from stroke but until I thank you and your girls somehow personally, the emotional part of my healing will not be complete. Although I can not contribute financially at this time to the school in South Africa, I’d like to send a small gift to each of them to show how much they helped heal my heart. The small heart I’ve enclosed is a symbol to me (and my own children) that we can keep smiling and carry on during tough times. I want to share one of these small gifts with each of your girls to let them know how much of a difference they made during my recovery. Today, I keep these hearts everywhere as a reminder of your girls and their stories and that I still have work to do on my own journey.


*I had a stroke at age 39 from a hole in my heart that went undetected from birth until it caused my stroke. Please read my story, I’ve enclosed it with this letter. My story is lengthy, but explains my connection to your girls at the end of the story (I’ve tagged the section marked “Raise Awareness”) and how I intend to make a difference.


In case the enclosed story did not make it to you, you can read my story here:



Thank you. Please let me know if it would be acceptable to send my thank you gift to the girls at your school- how can I get it there?


My sincerest thank you,


David Dansereau

Stroke Survivor

(401) 632-0868 –office


PS… I had submitted this thank you through your website several months ago (under link for “show guests that changed you”) but have not received a reply on how I could fulfill this request. Please advise.

It is important that I let your girls know they are already making a difference.


Letter to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

October 10, 2007


The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse
United States Senate
502 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Senator Whitehouse:


As a stroke survivor and volunteer for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, I would like to thank you for cosponsoring the Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention (STOP Stroke) Act (S. 999).  In addition to being our nation’s number three killer, stroke is also the number three killer in the Ocean State, claiming more than 500 Rhode Island lives every year.  A leading cause of long-term disability, stroke can have devastating effects on survivors, their caregivers and families.  While the STOP Stroke Act is a relatively modest legislative proposal, if enacted it is certain to save countless lives and prevent untold suffering. 


I am a stroke survivor and suffered with migraines for years prior to my stroke.  It was only after I had a stroke in the fall of last year at the age of 39 that doctors looked at my heart and found I had a PFO. I am a health educator in private practice (nutritionist and physical therapist) and although I educate my clients about the warning signs for heart disease and stroke all the time- I had no idea this defect could #1) lead to a stroke #2) be so devastating physically, financially and emotionally. 


As I discovered during my journey, I found out many physicians also lack the necessary training and awareness to screen for stroke and implement effective treatment recommendations, especially in the case of a young stroke survivor.  I also experienced a lack of communication between physicians and conflicting views on how to implement an effective treatment plan for me after my stroke.  I wanted to share my story with you and emphasize the importance of your continued support of the STOP Stroke Act.   (If you would like to learn more about my story it is available online: http://www.my-physical-therapy-coach.com/patent-foramen-ovale.html).


Support for the STOP Stroke Act continues to build; however, our work is not over.  Although the legislation has strong bipartisan support – as evidenced by the fact that it was passed by the House earlier this year by voice vote and passed in the Senate in 2002 – we need your additional help to get it passed by the Senate in the 110th Congress.  We ask that you contact the leaders of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to urge that they consider and approve the STOP Stroke Act as soon as possible. 


Again, let me express my deep gratitude for your support of the STOP Stroke Act and for any assistance you may provide to ensure that it moves quickly out of committee and to the floor for a vote. 




David P. Dansereau, MS, PT, RD

Stroke Survivor