Woman Who Suffers With Epilepsy To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro To Raise Awareness Of The Disease

  • Wednesday, May 22, 2024

In just under fifty days, Christy Howard, a Chattanooga woman who suffers with epilepsy, will begin her trek up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness surrounding the disease and those who suffer from its effects. Epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, is “a brain disorder that causes recurring, unprovoked seizures.” Ms. Howard and her team of 12 will depart from Atlanta on July 10 and begin the journey up Africa’s tallest mountain on July 13. The trip is planned over eight days to regulate as she ascends, as seizures can increase with higher altitudes.

Ms. Howard, who has been training relentlessly and feels both nervous and excited, is determined to get to the summit. Her husband, James, while also eager and resolute, is more concerned about his wife’s health and all that could go wrong. A meeting with Ms. Howard’s neurologist is scheduled for this weekend, which the team nurse, also making the climb, will attend. 

Ms. Howard, diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 16 years old, has suffered with the disease for over 34 years. “People ask me about my epilepsy all the time. It’s tough, I’m not going to lie, but you find ways to keep moving forward,” she says. That’s the way she lives her life – always moving forward. When she told her neurologist she wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, he responded with: “Live your life.”

Ms. Howard has had about two seizures per week lately, which she says is “very good.” While speaking about reaching the top: “If I don’t summit, I personally will be very, very frustrated – but I will know that I didn’t let epilepsy stop me from trying, from getting to the starting line.”

Ms. Howard and her team began training in September and her family, husband James and their two daughters, will be taking the trek with her. “Sure, there’s fear. Having a seizure up there – it’s scary. But not trying? That’s worse,” she says. “Everyone has something. I want to encourage people not to hide – that they are not alone in whatever it is that they face. Don’t let your problems or challenges hold you back from doing what you want. Live your life.”

Ms. Howard and her team continue to train until they depart for Mount Kilimanjaro in July, and are producing a documentary that will chronicle her journey.

You can also follow her journey on Facebook or Instagram under “Christy’s Climb.”

To sponsor the team or send messages of support, contact the group for more information.

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