Taking back control over their lives

Refusing to let epilepsy determine the paths of their lives

Each year approximately 15,500 Canadians are diagnosed with epilepsy, which often marks the start of a difficult and complicated health journey. Two epilepsy patients, young women living in BC, decided to take back control and determine their own path forward.

Jacqueline was in Grade 9 when she and her family were playing in the pool and she jumped into the water—and never came up. Her family rescued her and discovered she had a seizure, the first in her life. Not long after she had a second seizure, and at BC Children’s Hospital she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Grace and Jacqueline
Grace (left) and Jacqueline

Grace was also diagnosed with epilepsy at BC Children’s, although her seizures were of a different nature. “Mine were myoclonic jerks, so basically I would drop things, throw or buckle a leg,” Grace says.

Of the thousands of Canadians who learn they have epilepsy—an average of 42 people diagnosed each day—44 per cent are five years old or younger. Treating epilepsy is difficult because its causes aren’t well understood, and the condition can take a heavy toll both on the patients’ physical and mental well-being.

The families of Jacqueline and Grace are close friends with philanthropist Ali Pejman, who has first-hand knowledge of epilepsy. Together they joined the Pejman & Friends Epilepsy Fellowships and Research Initiative, a partnership that provides funding to both BC Children’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital—the cornerstones of epileptic care in BC.

The funding supports ground-breaking research and training of the next generation of medical superstars in the epilepsy field, with the ultimate goal of transforming care for the thousands of Canadians living with epilepsy today.

There’s still much that’s unknown about epilepsy. By joining the Pejman & Friends Initiative, Jacqueline and Grace are taking action and refusing to let epilepsy take over their lives.

“You don’t let it control you,” says Jacqueline. “You control it.”


This article was originally featured in the Fall 2021 issue of Shine magazine.

Shine Fall 2021 | Download the PDF



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