By Deron Hamel
Isabella De Sousa is dedicated to making it her mission to provide people with epilepsy the support and guidance that has helped her on her own journey of living with the condition.
Diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age, Isabella says she experienced “a lot of anxiety and self-consciousness” growing up with the condition but was able to overcome hurdles and live the life she wanted.
“Since childhood, I knew that I would and always will be different from my peers because of my disability, but something I had to learn was that just because I have seizures at night doesn’t mean I can’t wake up the next morning and live my life the same way as everyone else,” Isabella says.
“I strongly believe that someone’s epilepsy should not define who they are or what they can and cannot do.”
Isabella is currently a university student. After she completes her studies, she says she wants to dedicate herself full-time to helping people move past the obstacles she faced living with epilepsy.
“The topic of epilepsy is very important to me, as I have experienced it first-hand and I know how hard it can be on people and their loved ones, both mentally and physically,” she says.
“So, if I am able to alleviate their stress and put a smile on their faces, I will be able to call that a success.”
Isabella has been involved with Epilepsy Toronto for many years, participating in the agency’s events and fundraisers and networking with others in the local epilepsy community.
Isabella is already helping others with epilepsy. She notes that through her involvement with Epilepsy Toronto, she’s meeting others in her age group who have been newly diagnosed with seizure disorders and is mentoring people by answering questions and letting them know they’re not alone.
It’s a two-way street, she says, adding the people she meets with help her as much as she helps them.
“I want to continue supporting people in the epilepsy community by being a friendly face in the community and help teach others about epilepsy hopefully making them feel more comfortable about their condition,” she says.
Isabella is one of four recipients of Epilepsy Ontario’s 2022 annual scholarship. For more than 15 years, Epilepsy Ontario has been providing scholarships to exceptional students who have confronted and overcome remarkable barriers in their academic and personal lives due to their epilepsy.