Francesca Turauskis walked the Camino de Santiago in Summer 2017 raising money for epilepsy, here she tells her story:

“I had my first tonic-clonic about 7 years ago, when I was 21. It was my last year of university. As a young woman with no history, the doctors put it down to a one-off. A year later, it was a two-off. It was nearly four years after that first time that I was finally diagnosed. It was the best thing that could happen and now that my medication controls my seizures, I can live an independent life.

So, 7 years after my first seizure and more than 2 years since my last seizure, I decided to go on a solo hike along the Camino de Santiago in Spain – a walk of 800km, or 500 miles. I’ve always loved hiking and traveling, love the Spanish culture and thought it would be a good way to see the country and learn some of the language. My epilepsy meant that I had to take a few precautions. I had to ensure I had the right travel insurance and enough medication to last the full length of my trip. And I had a little tag on my bag saying “I have epilepsy” and the Spanish, tengo epilepsia. (I was told this made me look like Paddington Bear!)

I decided to raise some money for Epilepsy Research UK at the same time. Without research, and the right medication, I would never be able to do a trip like this. And as I was walking along, I spoke about epilepsy with so many people from different countries, most of whom knew little about it. Everyone had questions, the most common one being “but what do I do if you have a seizure?!”.

A lot of people asked me if I was scared and told me that I was brave to walk alone. The further I walked and the more I talked, the stronger I became and the more people began to see what a person with epilepsy can do. There are 52% of us in the UK who are living seizure free. And yes, it sometimes worries me that my seizures could return at any time. But that is the case whether I am at home or abroad – so why not walk across Spain in the meantime?”

Francesca raised over £600 including Gift Aid for Epilepsy Research UK and we are hugely grateful for all her time and commitment to our work.