1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lives; epilepsy can happen to anyone, at any age. For my daughter Annika, her first seizures occurred when she was 15, like a bolt out of the blue on a sunny Sunday afternoon the day before she was starting 10th grade. The seizures and the diagnosis of epilepsy came as a complete shock - she was a healthy, active teenager, a serious ballet-dancer and honor roll student. We have no family history of epilepsy and I had never even seen anyone have a seizure before that day.
The past 2 years have brought both struggles and triumphs. Annika has had periods with very few seizures, and months of struggling to get basic seizure control. And epilepsy is more than just seizures – people with epilepsy deal with medication side effects, memory issues and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Even when Annika is not having any seizures, epilepsy impacts her life every single day. She doesn’t like me to say it, but her courage and resilience inspire me each day. We are determined that her life will not be curtailed by epilepsy, and each of her successes is sweeter because we no longer take them for granted. However, the challenges of being an active, engaged teenager who has epilepsy cannot be overstated. At times we have all felt overwhelmed, depressed and angry.
Happily, Annika is in a very good place right now. While she continues to have periodic simple partial seizures, her current medications have kept the "big" complex partial and grand mal seizures away for the past 10 months. We are very grateful. But every day we live with the reality that with her seizure history, curent medication options only give Annika a 5-10% chance of ever being completely seizure-free. The return of her “big” seizures is like a dark cloud that lurks on the edge of our thoughts all the time. More research and treatments are desperately needed for the 50 million people around the world who suffer from epilepsy.
Running the Philadelphia Half Marathon to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation is my way of “giving back” to the community of people who have inspired and supported our family on this new and unexpected journey. The Epilepsy Foundation provides education and support to people with epilepsy, their families and the wider community, and funds research into the causes of epilepsy and new treatments. I hope for a cure for epilepsy within my daughter’s lifetime. Please join me in this effort by making a contribution. Thank you.
The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and SUDEP, find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies.
Athletes vs. Epilepsy affirms this positive message and embodies it through action. Athletes vs. Epilepsy is a nationwide program for athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans to raise awareness, build participation and help fund the Epilepsy Foundation's mission. Athletes vs. Epilepsy will bring awareness in all sports through participation by athletes of all ages and skill levels as well as their supportive friends, family and fans.
For more information visit epilepsy.com/athletesvsepilepsy.