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Women wears her support for epilepsy in self-designed T-shirt

The photo of the T-shirt won a BC Epilepsy Society Purple Day photo contest
Vanessa Shaughnessy’s photo of her Purple Day T-shirt won a B.C. Epilepsy Society photo contest.

Today is Purple Day and a local woman has taken up the cause of epilepsy awareness by designing a T-shirt reflecting her First Nations heritage.

The photo of the t-shirt won a BC Epilepsy Society Purple Day photo contest.

Vanessa Shaughnessy of Campbell River calls the design on her T-shirt Kawakiutl Hummingbird –  The Purple Ribbon.

“This photo includes a beautiful handmade depiction of a bird encapsulated within a purple ribbon,” said Elvira Balakshin, BC Epilepsy Society spokesperson. “Purple is an internationally-recognized colour associated with epilepsy awareness. The creativity and effort put into this is outstanding. This is why it was a winner in our Purple Day photo contest.”

Purple Day is held annually on March 26 and it is a day dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy. March is also epilepsy awareness month in Canada.

Purple Day was founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia. Megan told her friends about her epilepsy after a presentation in her class given by an epilepsy organization. At first, Megan was afraid the other children would make fun of her, but then she came up with the idea of Purple Day, where people would wear purple to show support for those living with epilepsy.

Purple Day reminds everyone that people living with epilepsy need understanding and acceptance. Epilepsy is far more common that most people realize. In Canada approximately 300,000 people have epilepsy and worldwide approximately 65 million people have epilepsy.

Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is often misunderstood and people with epilepsy can face social stigma and discrimination.

Spreading the word about epilepsy and Purple Day will help dispel myths about the condition and remind people affected by seizures that they are not alone.

“You probably have met someone with epilepsy – but don’t realize it,” said Balakshin. “Approximately 1-in-100 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.

“A lot of times people with epilepsy may have to tough it out – sometimes others may not be aware of the struggles they face. We need to make sure that as a community people with epilepsy and their families get the support they need to succeed.”

Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes a person to have recurring seizures. These seizures are caused by excessive discharges of electrical impulses in the brain. There are more than 20 different types of seizures.

Seizures can vary in frequency and severity. In some people with epilepsy, seizures happen only occasionally;  for others, it may happen up to hundreds of times a day.

Anyone can develop epilepsy at any age. In 70 per cent of cases there is no known cause.