Gertrude Creath attributes much of her knowledge and understanding of life to the fact that she has been living with epilepsy for the last 13 years. At the age of 12, her mother passed away and she began having anxiety attacks and seizures. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and even though she was on medication, her seizures only became worse over the years. In her early twenties, with no insurance or disability benefits, Gertrude turned to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago when it was clear she was not receiving optimal treatment.
As Gertrude and her Epilepsy Foundation case manager worked to have her benefits approved by the state, she continued to struggle with epilepsy and experienced seizures in several places, including a train platform. Despite her struggles with uncontrolled seizures, Gertrude was able to “see the bright side of things” when she took part in the Foundation’s Studio E: the Epilepsy Art Therapy Program, a multi-week art workshop for people with epilepsy. “The art program was special because it let me be creative and let me feel like I was special.”
Gertrude was recently approved for disability benefits and underwent diagnostic testing. With her neurologist, and assistance from a Foundation case manager, she is looking into all treatment options. “When you have seizures for as long as I have, it makes you realize that life isn’t simple. At the Foundation, I’ve found that I am not the only one with epilepsy. I’ve also learned that there are people who can help.”
Carl Wadley, a 15-year-old living with epilepsy, spent years struggling to find the right treatment to fight his seizures. Fortunately, two years ago, he was given a VNS implant and has been able to control his seizures ever since. The period when Carl’s epilepsy was not under control, however, is a time he and his family will never forget.
“We were too scared,” Sylvia, Carl’s mother, recalls. “I felt like I always had to be in his shadow and there were a lot of activities he missed out on.”
This past summer, Carl attended Camp Blackhawk, the Foundation’s week-long retreat for kids and teens living with epilepsy, for the first time. Carl made fast friends, loved swimming in the lake and pool and creating artwork. He feels that Camp has given him the opportunity to do so many new activities. Carl’s perspective has changed since returning from camp, in part because of his experiences, but also because of his new understanding of epilepsy.
“I had never seen someone have a seizure before, and I now get the impact that my epilepsy has had on my family. It’s hard. I want them to know that I know that now. It’s all because of camp and I am so thankful for my family and my experiences here.”
Help us to continue our mission of service and inspiration with a gift during this special season of giving. Together, we can make sure people like Gertrude and Carl have the ability to pursue their dreams and soar above seizures.
On behalf of everyone at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, thank you, and may you have a beautiful, healthy and joyous holiday season!
Did you know that you can help the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago by registering and participating in one of our many events listed on the sidebar of this page? Did you know that you can also sign up to become a Foundation Volunteer? Also, why not host a clothing drive or donate old clothes & household items through our donation program? Did you know that Friends of the Epilepsy Foundation works with Savers stores in the Chicago area to collect clothing, and in return we receive a small payment per pound of the clothing collected? Did you know that you can inform people about epilepsy and the Foundation through social media? Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Did you know that we have created new Community Action Boards in your area?
Fundraising isn't the only way you can help the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago - there are so many important, exciting ways for you to get involved!
There are 130,000 people in Illinois living with epilepsy, and we need your help to make sure people are aware of our many free programs and services. Get involved today and help us take action against epilepsy! We are here to help. Please feel free to visit us on our website at epilepsychicago.org or call us at 800.273.8027.
Established in 1946, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago offers programs and services for people with epilepsy and their families. The Foundation is dedicated to creating and maintaining cutting-edge initiatives that will support and improve the quality of life for people living with epilepsy. These initiatives include:
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