Founder of The Cavernoma Society, Simona Stankovska is to be recognised with a British Citizen Award Medal of Honour in recognition of her extraordinary endeavours. Simona is being honoured for their services to the volunteering and charitable giving with a BCAv.
Just over 5 years ago (July 9, 2015), Simona suffered a large bleed on the brain, causing a stroke and resulting in left-sided weakness. Having had no previous symptoms and aged just 27, Simona's world was turned upside down when several days later she was told by neurologists that her scan showed a rare growth on her brain which surgeons were almost positive was a cavernoma. A cavernoma is a tumour like growth on the brain made up of abnormal blood vessels which are weak and can rupture and seep blood into the surrounding brain or spinal tissue. The condition is unpredictable - often described as a ticking time bomb - and can cause paralysis or death in patients. Additionally, not much is known about the condition, so when diagnosed Simona was full of anxiety and worry, not knowing what her prognosis was. In the weeks that followed at age 27, Simona could no longer walk properly, speak clearly or look after herself. She had to move back home and her mum became her full-time carer.
There was light at the end of the tunnel, however and in 2015 Simona managed to find a surgeon who would operate on her and following a 6-hour operation she had her cavernoma removed. Since then she has improved, although the condition has left her with residual left-sided weakness, a hole in her brain that will never heal, and an invisible disability she struggles with every day.
Simona realised that there was very little understanding or support for people affected by cavernomas. She found that at least 1 in 600 people are diagnosed every year, but often these people would not qualify for any help or support. Therefore, in November 2018 Simona set up the charity The Cavernoma Society, single-handedly, creating platforms for sufferers to get support, advice and guidance and has fundraised tirelessly to raise funds for projects such as mindfulness retreats, psychological and medical research and private counselling for members. Simona has gone above and beyond for those affected by cavernomas despite her own health problems, putting others before herself. She is still very unwell but when a member is preparing for surgery, she will undertake a home visit, prepare and support them by chatting to them and sending them tips, or sending personalised pyjamas and gifts that will make their journey more comfortable. She makes it her goal to ensure every member feels heard and supported.
While some aspects of the Medal Presentation may have to change, the Medalists will all have a memorable day that they will never forget, which is fitting recognition for their amazing contribution to society. The event will be hosted by TV’s Tim Vincent, with BCA Patron’s Lord Dholakia and Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers also in attendance. Medals will be presented by senior figures from the sponsor community which includes Experian, Places for People, Objective HR, alongside Specsavers and One Stop.
The British Citizen Award was established in 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly making a positive impact on society. The BCA recognises true community heroes who would otherwise likely be overlooked. Dubbed the People’s Honours, many recipients have subsequently been selected to receive a Queen’s Honour after their endeavours have been recognised with a BCA.
Each Medal of Honour bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice yearly. The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.