She Did What at Nine Years Old?

 In Circle the Child, Weekly Forum Discussion

Written by: Melanie Groves; Circle the Child

There are many amazing female role models out there. Throughout history, these strong, courageous, pioneering, entrepreneurial, kind, compassionate, smart and amazing women have not only overcome obstacles, but shone so hard they paved the way for the generations after them to step into their light and power. Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Mother Theresa, Maya Angelou, and Michelle Obama are but a few of the many that I cherish and draw inspiration and strength from.
By far though, I am most inspired and in awe of Megan Cassidy. Native of Nova Scotia, Canada, Megan Cassidy was 9 years old when she founded Purple Day. Struggling with her epilepsy diagnosis — the lack of awareness and all the stigma associated with it —  she decided to start a movement. A movement to educate and spread awareness as well as create a community where others afflicted would feel heard, validated and supported. She is a shining embodied example of Marie Curie’s statement: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Eleven years after the launch of Purple Day, over 100 countries now participate in Purple Day activities and fundraisers while donning purple. Even the colour chosen to draw awareness is meaningful. It comes from the colour of the lavender flower which is known for its properties that help calm the nervous system and act also as an anticonvulsant. This global movement was launched by a 9-year-old girl who chose to see the collateral beauty in her situation and become a pioneer and champion instead of a victim to her diagnosis. Truly inspiring.

Here’s why her journey is so important to me. My son has intractable epilepsy. In a nutshell it means he falls in the stats of the 33 % of those diagnosed with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled on traditional pharmaceuticals. He was diagnosed at 4, underwent failed treatments with pharmaceuticals, brain surgery and even controversial chemotherapy treatment…none of which worked. At 11 he has much better control of seizures. We’ve had to up our game, supplement and complement with the non traditional stuff. This too is controversial. He uses CBD oil, which helps reduce his anxiety. There is still so much stigma and judgement associated with this therapy. Angry folks condemn our parenting decisions, saying we are making our kid “high.” Here too, we have a need for education. CBD is the non-munchie, non-sedative part of the plant. The psychoactive parts of the plant comes from THC which is negligible in his medicine. We’ve also worked with energy healing and meditation and visualization to support him in calming his nervous system when he feels the onset of a seizure. The hospital specialists simply pooh-pooh it, though we have seen a shift in the reception of this from the young interns coming in. Once again research has actually demonstrated a link between mind and body that helps support healing. For us, these techniques and alternative medicines have cut his seizures in half from where they were when we only had pharmaceuticals. So there is a story of hope to be shared there. Additionally, on many occasions, when recognizing his aura (his sign that tells him a seizure is about to hit), through the deep breathing and visualization my son can stop a seizure from hitting. So here is another story that can be shared. In fact he’s expressed an interest in writing a book to share the story to help other kids (and adults) regain a sense of power when it comes to their seizure management.

We’ve talked about it, the ideas are all there in his head and in our conversations. So often we let ourselves be dissuaded by the inner chatter, fear that says, “I don’t know the first thing about writing a book”, or “I am not a very good storyteller”, or [insert any other excuse here]. While it’s true that we don’t have all the answers, we do have the inspiration. We do have the shining example of Megan Cassidy to help us turn our story into a light, a beacon of hope. So while I and he are a few years older than Megan was when she forged this path of awareness, I am inspired to share our family’s story knowing that if even 1 other person is reached and relates to the message and finds hope that we’ve paid forward the collateral beauty that’s been afforded to us. I am sure Megan didn’t know the first thing about starting a movement. She simply had an idea that came from the heart and pursued it.

Thank you to you Megan Cassidy for the inspiration you are to me and my family and so many others around the world.

Recommended Posts