Purple Day 2016

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Submitted by Carol Ireland

So another Purple Day has come and gone. I am reflecting on the successes, the highs and the lows, the mixed emotions that were expressed over the past few days.

I remember some years ago when I first heard there was going to be an epilepsy ‘day’ thinking “oh no, not another ‘day’. There are so many already”. As I let the possibility sink in, I actually understood that having an ‘event’ like Purple Day was very right for the epilepsy condition. After all, hasn’t the World Health Organisation said “there is probably no condition more neglected………”?

Each year I have watched Purple Day develop a little further so that awareness of epilepsy in the community can grow a little more. This is, at its heart, the intention that young Cassidy Meagan had when she started the day in Canada back in 2008.

I was however, a little disheartened to see some divisive comments and criticism related to Purple Day and epilepsy on social media. Looking beyond the actual words, I think some were asking: Why should we celebrate? Should it be a fundraiser? Is it about raising awareness? Why commemorate?

Purple Day means many things to different people and I want to acknowledge this.

  • To those who are seizure free, they may well be celebrating a milestone. Let’s celebrate with them.
  • To thousands who live with the condition, they celebrate that at this time it is spoken about openly in the community and in the media.
  • To those who continue the struggle with debilitating and uncontrolled seizures, for themselves or their loved one, the day may evoke pain and misery. Let’s comfort and support them as they courageously fight the impact of epilepsy.
  • To those who have lost someone they love as a result of epilepsy, the day may be a tribute and a commemoration. Let’s remember those that have been lost.
  • To those who strive to deliver (free) services and support to those who need it, the day is a fundraiser, asking the public for help when awareness may be at its height.
  • For those who seek to educate, it is an opportunity to spread key messages.

I say Purple Day should be all of these and together, I think we can chalk up success for 2016. For all of us, more awareness in the community is something to celebrate. United we stand.

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