As a high school senior Jamie Fairles wasn’t playing sports or hanging out with friends. Instead he was having surgery after surgery for his brain tumour and its subsequent complications. Following these surgeries, he was admitted to the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program at the former Parkwood Hospital, now Parkwood Institute, in January 1999, where he underwent rehabilitation, learning to walk and talk again.
Upon discharge, Jamie was eager to get back to living his life. He graduated from high school and then from King’s University College with a Bachelor of Arts.
As if Jamie’s brain hadn’t had enough trauma, in 2005 he returned to the ABI program for therapy after being assaulted at a party while trying to break up a fight. “The constant blows to the right side of my head, which incidentally was where all of my surgeries were, caused a stroke,” explains Jamie. “All the gains I made from my previous brain trauma were destroyed in a single act of senseless violence.”
Just when he thought it couldn’t get worse, in 2009 Jamie’s tumour resurfaced landing him on the ABI floor for the third time.
Today, Jamie is no stranger to Parkwood Institute. He continues to meet with Bob Lomax, social worker in rehabilitation and ABI, who counsels Jamie and his wife as they manoeuver through life with a brain injury.
“Jamie has made huge progress,” says Bob. “He was dealt an unfair hand but throughout all of the turmoil he has been very resilient, caring and driven. No matter how much he gives back to the community, he is always looking to do more.”
Dedicating his life to helping others with a brain injury, he is the Peer Support Coordinator for The Brain Injury Association of London and Region. His role is to assist mentors, interview and match up mentors with the clients, and liaise with the 13 other Peer Support Coordinators in Ontario.
“I want to take my negative experience and turn it into a positive,” explains Jamie. “I am immensely fortunate to have the life I have today. I want to become a social worker to help others with a brain injury understand that while they may never get back to who they used to be, they can still have a fulfilling life.”