David and Susan Axelrod's 27-year-old daughter, Lauren, has suffered from the seizure disorder since she was seven months old.
The Axelrod's 27-year-old daughter, Lauren, has suffered from the seizure disorder since she was seven months old.
"Epilepsy affects as many people as breast cancer and we have the same number of fatalities," Susan Axelrod said.
The disease, however, has the stigma of shame, as some just don't want to admit they suffer from seizures, including Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who won't talk about it, but is known to have had two seizures over the past 16 years.
Epilepsy is defined as abnormal electrical activity in the brain. If you've had more than two seizures, you'd be classified as an epileptic. Thirty percent of those with epilepsy do not respond to medical treatment.
The Axelrods spent years in hospitals, willing to try any new treatment even surgery to stop Lauren's seizures. Nine years ago, on the brink of giving up, a new medication finally did work for Lauren and she has been seizure-free since.
The impact the seizures have taken on Lauren is evident, but her family sees positive changes.
"The neurons are growing and doing their thing and she's just making remarkable progress," Susan Axelrod said.
Since David Axelrod is now an Obama White House Adviser, Susan divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Chicago. She is comfortable speaking about epilepsy with parents and politicians; anyone who will listen.
Over the past 11 years, Susan Axelrod, along with other Chicago area parents whose children have epilepsy, have raised awareness and $9 million through their non-profit organization named CURE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.
CURE will hold its 11th Annual Fundraiser Friday, March 20 at Chicago's Field Museum. NBC's Tom Brokaw is the special guest. Lauren Axelrod will be there with a table of her close friends, enjoying the achievements so many have made for those once considered hopeless.