Siegel trying to give epilepsy patients peace of mind
Debbie Siegel, of Deerfield, started an epilepsy support group. She was diagnosed with epilepsy 16 years ago. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 21, 2013 2:52PM
DEERFIELD — Because medication kept Deerfield resident Debbie Siegel’s epileptic seizures under control for 14 years, she was understandably devastated when they made their return around two years ago—and have continued since.
Tired of feeling the negativity associated with her epileptic seizures, Siegel started Peace of Mind.
“The mission of Peace of Mind is to use the power of education to eliminate the fear and mystery surrounding epilepsy,” she said. “Despite the fact that epilepsy affects more people than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease combined, there is still so much misinformation and misperceptions about epilepsy.”
In its first year, the community action board has participated in two educational and fundraising events at Macy’s in Northbrook Court and at Bloomingdale’s in Old Orchard, where it will receive all of the funds raised by a “Shopping Works Wonders” event.
On Sunday, April 14 from 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Sachs Recreation Center, Peace of mind will host its first fundraiser. “Exercise for Epilepsy Awareness,” which will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, will invite guests to participate in either one hour of Zumba or two 30-minute spin classes and browse a silent auction.
Because the event’s finer details are still emerging, those interested are invited to check back on the “events” page of www.epilepsychicago.org.
Q: How long have you lived in Deerfield?
A: My whole life. When my husband and I got married we moved to New York and lived there for a little bit, but then we moved right back to the same street I grew up on in Deerfield.
Q: What kind of challenges has epilepsy presented you with since your diagnosis?
A: The loss of independence has been the most challenging for me, personally. It’s been almost three years since I’ve been able to drive, since the law prohibits driving for six months after each seizure you have.
Q: What inspired you to found Peace of Mind?
A: I decided that I was spending too much time in the negativity of my situation—every time I had a seizure, it was a negative experience—so I thought that a good positive outlet for my efforts would be to found what is now known as Peace of Mind.
Q: What inspired the name “Peace of Mind?”
A: We wanted a name that had to do with your brain, and was catchy, so we batted around a few different names and loved “Peace of Mind.”
Q: What are your goals?
A: My greatest goal for is for people to hear the word “epilepsy” and not to be afraid of it. When people say that they are afraid of epilepsy, I ask them: “How do you think I feel?” When you look at those statistics, you see that the same number of people that have epilepsy is nearly the same number of people that have breast cancer, but people are still more afraid of epilepsy. My goal is to get the word “epilepsy” to be as commonplace as “breast cancer.”
Q: When you aren’t working with Peace of Mind, what do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I teach decorating with my friend.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: My mom, because she raised five children!
Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: California Pizza Kitchen.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: “Scandal” on ABC.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “The Submission,” by Amy Waldman.
Q: Favorite vacation destination?