Jennifer Wilcox

My name is JJ I am 26 and an epileptic rugby player.

I was diagnosed with JME epilepsy at the age of 21. My journey started when in London Victoria Station, I was having dinner in the station and my friend noticed I was "fading out" and slurring my words. I ended up having an absence for 20 minutes and then collapsing to the floor.

Prior to my diagnosis I was a very active person, often scuba diving, boxing, open water swimming and cannoning.

When I received my diagnosis I was told this all had to stop due to the increased risk of injury and health and safety, as you can imagine I was heart broken and frankly quite depressed!

I thought my life was over but it was not. I worked with my neurologist so I could get my freedoms back and pick up a new sport which was rugby!

At the age of 24 I decided to join a local North London rugby team called Hampstead ladies. When I arrived I disclosed my condition and the club secretary was not phased and reassured me I was not the only player with a health condition. I was gob smacked and got stuck into training.

I have now played one season (COVID 19 cancelled my second one!) I found playing rugby in such an accepting and inclusive environment gave me so much confidence and removed my feelings of fear towards my other sports and activities.

So my message to young people or adults suffering with epilepsy is you can achieve great things and do not be discouraged or afraid to try new things!

I thought epilepsy was the end of my life but I found it was a new beginning, be brave, be bold and be safe!

Jennifer Wilcox
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