Karen Fisher who is a warrior to epilepsy has lived with epilepsy for over 40 years. Growing up in rural Ottawa, she developed epilepsy at the young age of 11 months and went through many years of drug trials, misdiagnoses, and testing. Unfortunately, no medication worked for Karen, its approximately 30% of people with epilepsy who do not receive control of their seizures through medication.
With Fisher’s fierce determination to never give up and to find hope it took until 2008 to know she was in the right place. Her journey and fight to find an answer took her to the epilepsy unit at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario. This is the largest epilepsy unit in Canada and a team of specialist known around the world. It was in London where monitoring and many neurological tests were done by Dr. Jorge Burneo to determine that she was an eligible candidate for brain surgery that would potentially reduce or even stop her seizures. However, this surgery did not come without risks.
In 2008 her life changed forever. She went through brain surgery where Dr. David Steven a neurosurgeon in London successfully performed a left temporal lobectomy. Karen has been seizure free since this surgery and considers herself very blessed despite the other challenges that arose. After her surgery, Karen developed clinical depression with no hope for recovery. Recognizing this led to follow-up care by Dr. Paul Derry a psychologist in London whose help and support led to a more positive outlook. It took her just over three years to beat the diagnosis and to return to life supporting others with epilepsy and gradually return to her career as a professional accountant.
Dr. Steven suggests that a patient must be free from seizures for over a year to be considered successful. By that measure Karen’s surgery was successful but there are many other factors that make Karen’s a true success story, especially her determination to move forward no matter what tried to slow her down.
Karen now works with others with epilepsy using her training in neuro-linguistic programming and coaching to help guide and encourage others to "fight the fight" and to seek new ways to cope with the psychological side effects of epilepsy. Epilepsy is not "just" seizures, and after living with it for over 40 years, Karen realized how important it is to have support and encouragement to live life to the fullest.
Karen gives back to the epilepsy community through various fundraising events throughout the year. Since 2008, Karen along with the support of her family and friends has raised over $216,060 for Epilepsy Awareness and Research. This fundraising is supporting the team at London Health Sciences (Western University – Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry) search for new hope for 1 in 100 living with epilepsy.
Tracy Sundue had convulsions as a baby which later caused seizures to begin in her teens. Those seizures became worse as she entered adulthood. After many years of having nocturnal seizures, trying different medications, she agreed to
talk about surgery. Tracy agreed and had brain surgery in 2011. All has been well, but recovery had its tolls and Tracy needed some help.
She then met Karen Fisher. Over the
years, they share their feelings, their emotions, and their successes and now, their friendship too. They enjoy raising money for a cause so deep and personal to each other, hoping one day, a cure will be found.