A Richmond student has been entering a battlefield with her invisible illness since she was 18 months old, but this year she thought that “enough (was) enough and people need to know about epilepsy.”
Marika Leigh Lopez, a Hugh Boyd student, stepped forward to share her story and speak up on epilepsy awareness with her first campaign at the Brighouse branch of the Richmond Public Library last Tuesday.
The courageous student worked with Danielle Cosco, a recent McMath Secondary graduate, in creating and promoting the “Seizure Soldiers” campaign after the two met at the Richmond Delta Youth Parliament (RDYP) earlier this year.
According to B.C. Epilepsy Society, one in 12 people will have at least one seizure in their lifetime and one in 100 people in Canada have epilepsy.
“What’s different about epilepsy is that it is more of an invisible illness; that is why it’s so big and so overlooked,” said Cosco.
The name “Seizure Soldiers” was created to educate others that people with epilepsy are like soldiers in the battlefield.
“Every day is uncertain for us because we have a higher chance of dying from a seizure than other people,” said Lopez adding that seizures are fatal to people with epilepsy.
She explained that emotional stress is the most common trigger that makes her vulnerable for seizures.
Lopez and Cosco plan to start educating teachers and the rest of first responders through “Seizure Soldiers,” adding that “it would be great to be able to collaborate with some of Richmond’s health services” to raise epilepsy awareness.
With the help of Kim Davidson, executive director of B.C. Epilepsy Society, Lopez and Cosco was able to provide various resources on epilepsy such as comic books, pamphlets, information books and much more to attendees at Tuesday’s event.
They hope that future collaborations with the B.C. Epilepsy Society can allow them to donate materials, like the comic books, to elementary schools.
Lopez wishes a support group in Richmond can be formed to help break down the “cultural differences surrounding epilepsy” and allow people with the invisible disorder to speak up.