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Purple Day: A vital celebration

Friday - April 5, 2019 10:09 am , Category : WTN SPECIAL

Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That’s more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease combined.

WTN- March 26 passed away silently as Purple Day, even as the founder of the global grassroots initiative Cassidy Megan made her maiden Indore visit on the day to spread awareness on epilepsy.

The concept of Purple Day was brought in 2008 by the 9-year-old Megan. It was in 2009 that the effort was formally established as an international body by the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation and Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia. Megan was 9 when she first realised that she was afflicted with the neurological aberration and from them on she took it upon herself to spread awareness on this.

Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That’s more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease combined. In India there would be about 12 million people with epilepsy. The Indian scenario is more difficult because cases are often underreported, that leaves a major chunk of the population outside the purview of treatment.

There is widespread misconception too regarding the condition and there is a tendency to relate it to divine curse and such occult things and myths.

This makes awareness all the more important as a very potent tool of dispelling superstitious beliefs, and bringing sufferers of this condition under the light. Unless we talk about it more and bring the subject out of the closet in the public discourse, epilepsy will continue to affect people in a big way. To spread this message Megan, now 19, visited Indore with her mother Angela, who has silently supported her all through her difficult journey. There was a time when, like many epilepsy patients, Megan had sunk into depression when she first came to know about her condition, even as she faced bullying in school for being ‘different’. Socialising was growingly becoming a burden to her.

But incidentally, it was social media that she eventually took to, to spread her message and unite the epileptics of the world. Today she has members and patrons from close to ninety countries that make the Purple Day a successful humanitarian venture.  It is important for more and more people to know about epilepsy and ways to handle it successfully.

Epilepsy can be fully controlled if there is early intervention and the right medication through a period of time. Many people have successfully come out of this by taking the right precautions and medicines in time. Even Indian tennis legend Leander Paes is said to have that condition but that has never come in his way to achieve milestones. We need to discard the traditional baggage that stigmatizes epilepsy and isolates people having it.

The seminal advancements in medical and neurological sciences over the past century have made it much easier for us to understand the reasons behind epileptic attacks and ways to manage and minimise them – only if we are receptive and understanding enough to stand by the truth and dump the misconceptions surrounding it. In any case, we need to thank the young girl Cassidy Megan for making the lives of epileptics that much easy!

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