About a year ago, I was catching up with an old friend who happened to be in town.
“Old friend” doesn’t actually capture the natural and solid connection that persists between me and most of the kids I grew up with. We lived in a tiny community, so we didn’t just go to school with our neighbours. We were on the same soccer teams, we were in the same choirs and brownie troops and 4H clubs. Their parents were our teachers and our librarians and our coaches. We babysat and we tutored each other.
In the case of Karen, she was my devoted piano student (which means her family is responsible, in part, for funding the university degree I have buried in a file somewhere).
You’d think, living and working so closely together, we’d all have known each other’s histories up and down. And often we did. But throughout those years, Karen was experiencing health challenges I never knew about.
One thing I never forgot about Karen: She was strong. She had to be, as the youngest of four loud siblings. She told, not asked, her mother to hire me at the piano. She personally handed over my weekly fee. She worked harder at this instrument than any other student I ever taught. When she passed her exam with honours, I couldn’t have been prouder.
So last year, when Karen asked me to take a look at a manuscript she’d written, I was happy to help. I was also surprised: It turned out to be a detailed and personal story of her decades-long struggle with epilepsy and seizures, brain surgery and depression.
She calls it the “roller coaster ride” of her life.
Determined as ever, Karen has now turned her experience into a printed book, with two selfless purposes: to inspire others living with epilepsy, and to raise money for awareness and research.
And while she works at promoting and selling her new book – she has already raised over two thousand smackeroos for Epilepsy Ottawa-Carleton because, remember, she’s strong – she continues to point to those who’ve supported her. Here’s a brief rundown: My pal Heather contributed her editing talents for an extremely modest fee. Last weekend, my sister Sylvie hosted a book signing at the local general store. A mess of family and friends have cheered Karen on for years.
If you needed any more proof of how gracious Karen can be, she takes four pages of her new book just to express her gratitude to these people. (Who doesn’t like a thank you?)
Want a copy of My Life Time Roller Coaster Ride with Epilepsy? contact author Karen Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell her hi from me.