Lakeisha's Epilepsy Story
Lakeisha “Lucky” Patterson was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of five, after copious unexpected daily falls and a traumatic eight minute seizure. In primary school, Lakeisha was severely affected by her epilepsy and her Mum Sherryn was told that due to brain damage from seizures Lakeisha wouldn’t achieve much, would require constant care, and would need to attend a special school.
Lakeisha shares “Fortunately, I have an absolutely incredible mum who never stopped fighting, in fact, I think that words like that fuelled her fire, making sure I got help to achieve my best. With her support I eventually found a specialist who understood me, found medications that worked, an amazing school and support network, as well as Epilepsy Queensland – all who guided us along my epilepsy journey.”
An exceptional athlete
At the age of 15, Lakeisha won her first medal for Australia at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Now 22, Lucky is a Paralympic, World Para Swimming Championships and Commonwealth Games swimming gold medalist. She is also studying for a Bachelor of Communications at QUT.
With all of her achievements, you could be forgiven for thinking that Lakeisha is not affected by epilepsy, cerebral palsy and micrographia, but this just isn’t the case.
“My epilepsy affects me on a daily basis. Medication leaves me fatigued, my balance, memory and cognition can be impacted and there are lengths of time when I am unable to drive. Having Cerebral Palsy Left Hemiplegia can also be a contributing factor,” Lakeisha says.
Lakeisha has not only experienced physical challenges. She explains: “Unfortunately, there is a stigma, surrounding what people with disabilities can achieve in life. Growing up with numerous medical conditions, I have experienced this discrimination time and time again.”
A lifeline to knowledge and support
Lakeisha shares how Epilepsy Queensland helped her family.
“Epilepsy Queensland has been a lifeline in my epilepsy journey. Their knowledge and support towards my mum in the early days, was particularly helpful. For a single-mum who had already survived many obstacles to give her three daughters the best opportunities in life, my epilepsy diagnosis was incredibly stressful. Since then Epilepsy Queensland has been the go-to source, unlocking solutions for a better lifestyle. Their updated and concise information supports families and individuals facing the same challenges my family did. They do a fantastic job of raising awareness and education to bring epilepsy out of the shadows.”
Creating positive change
Giving back to others in the community is Lucky’s passion, generously sharing her story at events, through her social media and in the media.
“People in our community are more aware of what epilepsy is through communication and education,” Lakeisha shares.
Lakeisha is optimistic about the future and encourages others to share their stories to create positive change: “Community attitudes have changed towards epilepsy. The stigma and discrimination sometimes associated with epilepsy and other medical conditions, is diminishing as people have greater understanding. This is a positive, and continues to improve as brave individuals share their stories and organisations, such as Epilepsy Queensland, spread awareness.”