Every year on 26 March, the world turns purple to raise awareness of epilepsy, but this year Purple Day is expanding its reach.
When Cassidy Megan started Purple Day in 2008 at just eight-years-old, it was a way to find a community and raise awareness of epilepsy. Now, 14 years after the first Purple Day took place, the day has grown to be a worldwide awareness event.
“I didn’t know anyone else who had epilepsy, I felt so alone and so scared of being made fun of, or losing friends,” remembers Cassidy. “I wanted to see if there were other people out there with epilepsy, but I also wanted to educate the public on how to correctly help if they see someone having a seizure.”
Cassidy has built a community that is there for each other 365 days a year, not just on Purple Day. This year, the awareness event will be bigger than ever before with the usual schedule of in-person events around the world switching to a hybrid model to encompass online.
“The great thing about this is that both ways hold the ability to bring the epilepsy community together in ways we couldn’t have before and in turn means we’re able to spread epilepsy awareness and education much more globally,” enthuses Cassidy.
“Purple Day’s main goal has not changed, if anything it is making me push harder for epilepsy awareness.”
Based in Canada, Purple Day 2022 is of special significance for Cassidy – it marks a decade since the country passed the Purple Day Act, recognising the awareness day by law.
“It is so cool that 2022 marks 10 years since the Purple Day Act has passed,” expresses Cassidy. “I am grateful and proud of my country for passing this act and so much has happened since that time. However, there is still so much more that needs to happen.”
Canada remains the only country around the world to have passed an act of this kind.
“Some parts of our world still have such a horrible stigma attached to epilepsy, it is still hidden and taboo to talk about in so many places so it is harder for them to pass policies,” explains Cassidy. “Wouldn’t that be amazing, for people living with epilepsy to know that their government sees them, recognises them and supports them?”
Along with greater government support and the need for public awareness, Cassidy would also like to see more education around Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, often referred to as SUDEP.
“There is not enough conversation about SUDEP and the fact that most, if not all of us, live with the knowledge that we could die from a seizure,” reveals Cassidy. “Even if it is a thought in the back of our minds, it is there.”
Through events like Purple Day the world can achieve greater awareness of epilepsy and the effect it has not only on physical health, but mental health and daily life.