Amazing Joan !
Woman who survives husband's murderous attack now motivational speaker
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
A year after surviving a brutal gun attack by her estranged husband that left four members of her family dead, Joan Llewellyn, who was left crippled from the neck down, continues to amaze everyone with her recovery at the Shepherd's Spinal Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States.
The April 7, 2011 attack in Three Hills, St Mary, left Llewellyn's father Valdie Brown, mother Rachel, daughter Jorgjhan Flynn, and brother Fitzroy Townsend dead.
But Llewellyn's recovery has been nothing short of miraculous.
When The Sunday Gleaner called her in Atlanta early last week, she said she was in pain and requested that we call back another day.
Last Wednesday, she was in better spirits and not only spoke freely but her voice was filled with joy.
She had been airlifted to Atlanta on April 20, 2011, where she spent two days in the intensive care unit before being transferred to the ward.
She was discharged a month later and continues her rehabilitation at the spinal centre.
Initially paralysed from the neck down, Llewellyn can now work her upper body, feed herself, use the computer with certain devices, and operate her wheelchair.
Her progress has inspired the administrators and other patients at the institution and they have asked her to assist in the rehabilitation of other patients.
"I go to church every week. I'm on the choir and you can even see a video of me on YouTube singing. Now they use me as an inspiration to others," Llewellyn told The Sunday Gleaner.
"I'm even doing singing therapy, I sing to patients two or three times a week. And they also want me to be a motivational speaker so I can help others in the recovery process," added the woman who many thought was dead after the attack.
While she is trying to recover, she is helping others without a second thought.
"I don't see my disability as a downfall. God knows why this happened and why He saved me, and I'm not going to let Him down. God gave me back my sight," Llewellyn revealed.
There are still bullet and bone fragments in her spine, but Llewellyn is hoping to walk again, vowing never to give up the faith.
"Give up? No sah! No, no, no. No way, not at all!" she said.
"A lot of people gave up on me, so I don't see why I should give up on God. Last year when I came off the plane, I could only move my eyes. Now they are teaching me to write again. It takes time. It's as if I'm a baby again. But babies grow, so I will grow.
"I was on oxygen for a month, now I've learned to feed myself again. I can sing now and I give thanks. I sing, I clap, God is too good to me. There are days when the pain is so much, but I thank God through the pain. I have feeling coming back to my body. In everything I give Him thanks."
Llewellyn told The Sunday Gleaner that our call came at a good time as today is her birthday which she usually celebrates with two special people.
"Tell all 'Aprilites', 'Happy birthday'," she said while cheerfully adding, "especially Millicent Grant, whose birthday was on the 28th, and my cousin Jasmine Williams on the 29th, we three always celebrated together."
She had special words for the people who have supported her in whatever way.
"I thank Jamaica for praying for me. Thanks for your prayers, your thoughts, your encouragement, your financial support, I am very, very grateful ... . Tell Jamaica I'm still holding strong, still holding on to my faith. Massa God has been good to me. Jamaica, I love you all."