This week on Sunday the 8th March, it’s International Women’s Day! A global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is #EachForEqual, celebrating women’s achievements and taking action for equality. We’ve decided to celebrate International Women’s Day by telling you about a woman who inspires us, Emilia Clarke.
Emilia Clarke is an English Actress, most commonly known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. Emilia also starred in 2016 film ‘Me before You’ and 2015 film ‘Terminator: Genesis’, as well as other films and TV series.
On February 11th 2011 just after filming for season 1 of Game of Thrones had finished, Emilia suffered from a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. Emilia was just 24 at this time. Following her first brain surgery to seal off the aneurysm that had ruptured causing the stroke, Emilia suffered from a condition known as aphasia.
Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Luckily, after a week Emilia’s aphasia passed and she spent the next few weeks recovering before being discharged from the hospital. In an interview for The New Yorker, Emilia stated “I was also aware that there were people in the beds around me who didn’t make it out of the I.C.U. I was continually reminded of just how fortunate I was”. On leaving the hospital Emilia was told that she had a smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain, and that it was possible it would remain harmless indefinitely, but that they would keep an eye on it.
Emilia fought her way through recovery, through headaches, work and exhaustion. After filming season 3 of Game of Thrones, she went for a regular brain scan and was told the small aneurysm had doubled in size, and that it needed to be operated on. This operation however had complications, resulting in Emilia needing a second, more invasive surgery. She spent another month in hospital, anxious about recovery, work and possible cognitive and sensory losses. In another quote taken from the interview for The New Yorker, Emilia said “Please believe me: I know that I am hardly unique, hardly alone. Countless people have suffered far worse, and with nothing like the care I was so lucky to receive.”
After leaving hospital, Emilia got back to 100% and made a full recovery with the help of her friends, family and medical staff. She has thrown herself into her work, and a charity that she helped develop in conjunction with partners in the U.K. and the U.S called SameYou. The charity aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke, fund new research and to work with neurorehabilitation leaders to develop a blueprint for a new type of neuro-recovery centre helping people find their way to recovery through emotional and practical support.
So why do we see Emilia Clarke as an inspirational woman? Well, despite her battles with brain injury at an important time in her career Emilia managed to survive and thrive. She continues to be a successful Actress. Emilia recognises how lucky she was, and is using her own experiences to help others going through similar things. She shows compassion, equality and kindness. In a statement taken from the SameYou website, Emilia states “Not everyone is able to make a full recovery after brain injury or stroke, but I believe that everyone should have access to the best possible mental and physical rehabilitation to maximise their individual recovery potential.” Yep, we’re definitely inspired!