Stephen Goff's Story

Stephen Goff was raised in Toronto. He has fond memories of his days as a catcher in baseball and a goalie in hockey. Steve had a very successful sales career in the US and Canada, gave many presentations and was featured in training videos. The ability to talk was a main part of his identity. After the death of a very close uncle, who was a father figure for Stephen, he re-evaluated his life and enrolled in Queen’s University to become a minister.

      

“Imagine if the last word you say tonight is the last word for the rest of your life”

In March of 1994 Stephen suffered a stroke on the left side of his brain, resulting in aphasia:  he had a complete loss of speech, and a loss of his abilities to read, write and work with numbers.  Speech therapy in Kingston helped him regain some speech and language skills over the next few months.  However, the “loss of self” was very difficult for him and for his family.  He experienced a long period of anger, depression and boredom.

 

It wasn’t until 1999 when Stephen’s daughter Teresa Goff produced and presented a 12-minute program which was broadcast on CBC radio, that he saw himself in a different light.  This was a turnaround point, and Stephen found a new purpose:  to inform the public about aphasia, and to reach out to people who have aphasia.  Teresa produced a second documentary, “In So Many Words”, which aired on CBC radio’s “Sunday Edition” in December, 2002 and on National Public Radio in the U.S.  This documentary won a media award from the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, and a Third Coast Audio Award for “radio impact” in October 2004.  He was also featured on CBC TV’s National News in December 2003.

 

Stephen’s association with Jan Roadhouse and Lori Santilli led to the development of a very successful Aphasia Program at the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre in Brantford, ON and the launch of weekly aphasia conversation groups in November, 2001.  The weekly conversation groups have since expanded into Paris, Simcoe and Caledonia.

 

Stephen’s documentaries and presentations have reached over 1 million people, helping to educate people about aphasia.  Stephen’s wife Carol, a retired teacher, is also an active volunteer in the Centre’s conversation and caregiver groups.  Steve and Carol participate in teaching health professionals about aphasia.  They have been keynote speakers at workshops in Vancouver, Toronto, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Wisconsin. Together Stephen and Carol started a conversation group for people with aphasia in Waterford, Ontario where they now live.  In 2008 they were the inspiration for the first-ever Aphasia Camp in Canada held near Brantford, ON.  Equally successful Aphasia Camps were held in 2009,  2010 and 2012.  Steve and Carol are currently involved in planning for Aphasia Camp 2014.

 

As the introduction to “In So Many Words” says about Stephen:  although his words are broken, his message is clear”.  Stephen’s message is one of hope for people who have aphasia, and of inspiration for all whose lives are touched by stroke and aphasia.

Listen to "In So Many Words" on National Public Radio, by Teresa Goff

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