A young Gorham woman named Miss Maine Teen USA in 2009 is battling back from a stroke that nearly claimed her life in November.
Jordan Shiers, 23, is undergoing therapy several times weekly and is now even taking ballroom dancing lessons at the University of Southern Maine with her boyfriend. She is the daughter of Darren and Lisa Shiers of Gorham.
While a junior at Gorham High School, Shiers was crowned Miss Maine Teen USA. In high school, she was an honor roll student and cheerleader. She has been an active volunteer with Maine Special Olympics. She graduated in 2010.
The stroke has delayed her earning a diploma at the University of Southern Maine, where she was in her senior year.
Shiers’ mother said this week her daughter has youth on her side and her recovery from the stroke is coming along well. She said her daughter is “very positive,” and a surgeon this week was impressed with her daughter’s progress.
“She was a miracle,” Lisa Shiers quoted the doctor.
Darren Shiers said his daughter’s spirits are good.
“She’s determined,” he said.
The community is pulling for her and a benefit fundraiser dance is set for 8 p.m.-1 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Roost, 62 Chicopee Road in Buxton. Tickets, $50 per couple and $30 for an individual, are available at the door or in advance at Great Falls Construction, 20 Mechanic St., in Gorham. DJ Jim Fahey of Westbrook is donating his services for the event.
Shiers, who lives with her parents, was at home on Nov. 2. When she walked from the living room at about 5:15 p.m. that day, her mother said, she had a droop on the left side of her face, slurred speech, was sweating profusely and had limited use of her left arm and leg.
Her father called 911.
Lisa Shiers said Wednesday Gorham Rescue paramedics arrived within five minutes.
“Paramedics knew she was in a life-threatening situation,” she said, but she added they didn’t panic the family.
She described her daughter’s situation as critical, and she was rushed to Maine Medical Center in Portland. She said a blood clot had blocked the artery to her daughter’s brain. She said the hospital acted quickly and 15 people hovered around Jordan.
In the hospital, Shiers was treated with a “clot buster” followed by surgery, said her mother. Two days later, part of her skull was removed because of swelling on her brain. She spent 10 days in intensive care and then continued to be hospitalized until she went home the day before Thanksgiving.
The part of her skull that had been removed was put back on Jan. 7 and she was hospitalized for two additional days.
Lisa Shiers said doctors don’t really know the cause of the stroke, but speculate that genetics could have been a factor.
Shiers goes to therapy sessions at New England Rehabilitation in Portland and Jade Integrated Health in Portland.
“I’m her driver,” her mother said.
Initially, Shiers lost the use of her left arm and hand, but now has regained a limited use of her hand. Her mother said at first medical staff didn’t believe Jordan could walk because she had lost feeling in her left foot. But, she said, her daughter stood up and walked and used a walker for a couple of weeks. Now, she doesn’t need a walker or cane and doesn’t limp.
Darren Shiers said his daughter’s friends have stayed close through the ordeal and her boyfriend, Nate Rossignol, who is a University of Southern Maine senior, has been “stellar.”
Lisa Shiers said her daughter and Rossignol had been dating for eight months.
“He’s been tremendous through this,” she said.
Rossignol, a native of Caribou, said Tuesday that Jordan was majoring in business and was on track to graduate from the university in May. Rossignol said her recovery has been amazing and they take the ballroom dance class twice weekly.
“She’s been so positive, it’s a key to her recovery,” Rossignol said. “She’s 90 percent back.”
Shiers said Wednesday that earlier in the day she had a dance class and went to the gym, both at USM. She said she’s “recovering pretty good.”
She plans to attend weekend the fundraiser.
“I am excited for Saturday,” she said.
Darren Shiers, the business operation manager at Great Falls Construction, said his daughter will travel to the Washington, D.C., area in April to undergo intense therapy – 61⁄2 hours daily for five days with a Russian doctor.
Shiers has been under her mother’s insurance plan, but the therapy in Washington, costing $7,000, which does not include travel, hotel or other expenses for mother and daughter, will not be covered by their insurance.
Stephanie Keene of Buxton organized this weekend’s “Hearts for Jordan” benefit at The Roost in Buxton. Keene said Tuesday 350 tickets for the benefit had been sold by Tuesday and 150 more are available.
Keene went to Gorham High School with Lisa Shiers and has known her daughter since she was an infant. Keene said Shiers’ goal is to apply as a contestant for the CBS reality show, “The Amazing Race,” in which teams race around the world.
Shiers has modeled and worked several jobs, including at Mister Bagel in Gorham. Keene described Shiers as possessing a strong will.
“She is goal oriented,” Keene said.
Jordan’s mother said her daughter is doing well, but is frustrated occasionally.
“She loves all the new people she has met,” Lisa Shiers said.
Keene also posted an online gofundme page for Shiers. Monetary donations also can be dropped off at Great Falls Construction.