Conn. (WTNH) — One Connecticut woman is turning her pain into power by creating a non-profit aimed to help people navigate the health care system.

Ira Revels, 50, of West Hartford had a rough year; she lost several family members, including her birth mother and beloved uncle, had a stroke, and is continuing to suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.

Revels, a digital artist, co-owns the digital media company Black Tech Futures Media, which educates people about the future of the web.

However, her latest project, the non-profit And Wellness, Inc., was created after her personal experience with the health care system during her stroke. She spent nine hours in one emergency room without food, water, or medication after arriving with the side of her body completely numb.

Revels tried to go to another hospital and found it would be another six and a half hour wait. She gave up on waiting and called an ambulance the next morning to bring her in for care.

“The fact that I made it out of there means to me I’m still supposed to be here,” she said in a statement. “I’m inspired by my stroke and my experience with the healthcare system [to start this nonprofit to help others].”

Revels is a participant in the Let’s Face It campaign, hosted by Mental Health Connecticut. The campaign aims to face stigmas head-on by connecting residents with unique experience — sharing their stories and challenges throughout life.

Find more information about Mental Health Connecticut here.

See the full interview with Revels and Luis B. Perez of Mental Health Connecticut in the video above.