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A former Toronto Argos cheerleader performs a dance routine with her physiotherapist
September 3, 2018

Former Argos cheerleader gets stroke treatment behind enemy lines

When the hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats added another Labour Day Classic win to their tally this past weekend, a former cheerleader for their arch rival may have cracked a small smile.

Tracey Taylor used to cheer for the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton’s rival team. She was admitted to Hamilton Health Sciences’ Regional Rehabilitation Centre for stroke treatment earlier this summer.

Though she was discharged in July, she left a lasting impression on her care team during her stay.

“The first day I met Tracey she had a very positive energy, and she was really motivated to work on her goals,” says Julie d’Entremont, a physiotherapist in the rehab centre’s stroke unit. “She told me she used to be a cheerleader so it gave me an idea.”

“We want patients to return to the activities they enjoy.”

Julie, a long-time dancer herself, choreographed a routine for Tracey that would enable her to reach her goals. It also inspired many fellow patients.

“As a team we work to make the patient experience enjoyable and meaningful,” says Julie. “We want to return them to the activities they enjoy and to have them become independent with their mobility again.”

Earlier this year, the stroke program helped a patient reach his goal of walking his daughter down the aisle for her wedding.

Stroke happened after family vacation

When Tracey came home from a trip to Cuba, she soon felt uncomfortable tightness with her body going numb. Her son knew something was wrong and took her to Hamilton General Hospital right away.

She was experiencing the first signs of stroke.

Almost as soon as she got to the rehab centre, she was determined to recover quickly.

“As soon as I got in that wheelchair, I asked my care team what do I have to do to get out of here,” says Tracey. “I’m going to dance my way out of here if I have to.”

And she did.

“That first meeting, we talked about working toward doing a small dance together,” says Julie. “I have always loved to dance and in my role as a physiotherapist, I help people move again. The two passions go hand in hand.

“With Tracey, her passion for dancing is the same as mine. We were fortunate to work on her mobility partly through an activity that we both really enjoy, and was a big part of her life.”

Tracey was on board immediately. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s do this!’”

Julie supplied pom-poms and the proper uniforms for her and Tracey to wear.

“I danced my way out of here.”

Cheerleading once again

Near the end of her rehab, Tracey and Julie got up in front of patients, staff and family members in the therapy gym and performed their routine together.

Tracey looks back fondly at her days as one of the top cheerleaders for a strong Argos team that featured Doug Flutie and Pinball Clemons.

With her performance, Tracey hopes she inspired a few of her fellow patients too.

“I feel like I got a second chance. That’s why I did this.

“I danced my way out of here.”