Courtney DiPersico’s Story
“I was born 13 weeks premature and had a stroke before birth which caused my Epilepsy. Before the third grade, my family and I were on our own trying to live with my medical condition every day. Then we found the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. They came to my classroom in front of my peers and explained in a fun and exciting way what Epilepsy was and how they all could help me. To some people, this would seem embarrassing, to me it was relief. They helped me begin my journey of accepting my Epilepsy and advocating for myself.
Throughout my lifetime with Epilepsy there has been many trials including the difficulty of finding the right medication to assist with the disorder so we convinced my neurologist to try Brain surgery. Over the course of nearly a year, I was in and out of Miami Children’s Hospital. This is where I met Pat Dean, a very good friend of mine and the Epilepsy Foundation. She was with my mother, grandmother and I throughout all four stays in the hospital. I then developed Bacterial Meningitis from the surgery. Lots of hospital visits to Miami Children’s before I recovered and after 9 months I was finally seizure free. I had surgery October 25. 2004. I became seizure free April 15, 2006. That’s right Tax Day!
During my recovery from Brain surgery, I realized how sad I was. Earlier that same year, I was feeling confused and slightly depressed due to feeling alone sometimes with Epilepsy. I later decided that I would create the first ever Epilepsy Teen Support Group for those with this primary diagnosis. I raised some funds and went to my local EFOF branch in West palm. This is where I met Susan Eddins for the first time. She helped to found this group which I later mentored.
Around this time, I also became an Epilepsy Advocate. I was sixteen and I was already with two fellow teen members, giving speeches to local high schools and colleges to raise awareness. We taught about myths and how to address different types of seizures. I also during my time as an advocate spoke to my local and national representatives in Tallahassee at the time regarding the need for funds for our disorder in the budget. Today, I have recently graduated from my Master’s program in General Psychology. I am now working the Epilepsy Foundation once again to reinstate the Epilepsy Teen Support Group known as “The Adventure Club”.”