A former newspaper reporter who underwent life-changing brain surgery last summer is aiming to raise £1,000 for epilepsy charities this year.
Anna Coe, 29, a reporter at weekly title the West Sussex County Times until recently, has had epilepsy for 20 years and at its worst, when she was a teenager, she was having about 40 seizures every month.
Medication reduced the seizures to eight a month, but in June 2011 she took the brave decision to have pioneering surgery to remove the part of her brain which specialists at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London found was causing the seizures.
Since the nine-hour operation, which is carried out on less than 50 epilepsy patients a year, she has been seizure-free, and now she wants to raise awareness of the condition by taking part in a series of fundraising events.
Said Anna, who has also worked on the Bucks Herald and Oxford Mail: “I am blessed that the epilepsy did not restrict my ability to work or have a successful university education, but I still lived in the knowledge I could have a seizure at any time and was dependent on family, friends and colleagues to look after me when I had them.
“When my consultant told me in August 2010 I could have the operation and it had a 50 per cent chance of getting rid of the seizures and 25 per cent of reducing the number of seizures I had, I didn’t think twice.
“I had been looking for this answer for years. I’d tried ten medications, three of which I still take. This is the best chance I’ve got of living a seizure-free life.”
The procedure that Anna had was a rare specialist operation of which around only 30 to 40 are performed each year.
Added Anna: “The epilepsy team in London has been great. It’s a dream come true, but there is so much work to be done to raise awareness of epilepsy and I still don’t know if I’ll be seizure-free for life.”
She and her husband Scott will be taking part in a ten-mile sponsored walk on Sunday 20 May to raise money for Epilepsy Action.
They will be organising a cake sale in the summer in aid of the Epilepsy Society and in the autumn host a pizza party for the National Brain Appeal.
She added: “Epilepsy will always be a part of who I am. I want to raise at least £1,000. These are all such great causes and anybody can take part in these events. The Guildford Epilepsy Action branch is hosting walks of three different lengths for all abilities.”