Misty Phillips

Misty Phillips, 35, of Oxford, Miss., can’t run away from her problems; instead she has chosen to run for them as a charity participant in the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon. With 25 other runners Phillips will take on the MCM to fundraise for the Epilepsy Therapy Project charity, a group that supports her own personal cause: her son.

In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2009, Phillips and her husband, Stephen, awoke to a loud crash and discovered their son Lucas, then 11, on the bathroom floor having a seizure. The family spent the remainder of the day in the hospital while Lucas underwent a battery of tests to include an EEG. They returned home after all the results came back normal; however, this first seizure foreshadowed a life that would become anything but ordinary.

Misty PhillipsThe Phillips family, to include Lucas' younger sister Miriam, spent the next few months believing that the seizure on Christmas Eve was a fluke until June of 2010 when their hopes were dashed; Lucas suffered from another seizure. This time they were given the option to control the seizures by medicating Lucas, but with another normal EEG result, the Phillips family opted not to pursue
treatment at that time.

This all changed two short months later. One night in August, Lucas began seizing at 3 a.m. and continued on to have five seizures over the course of the night. He was admitted to the hospital and was started on medication that day. Lucas struggled with adjusting to the medication regime and suffered from terrible side effects to include rage, depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and memory loss.

“There were times during the first few weeks that it felt like our entire family was falling apart,” says Phillips. “To say that we had a rough time is an understatement.”

Phillips spent countless hours researching seizures online to prepare herself for subsequent trips
to the neurologist, but Lucas’ condition still remained a mystery. Tests and an MRI continued to
show normal results. The cause of his seizures is unknown, but he has been diagnosed with Partial Complex Seizure Disorder with migraines, and Lucas’ doctor ensured Phillips that she had done everything right and they needed to let the medicine do its job.

“I left her [the neurologist’s] office feeling a little better but still wanting answers that have yet to
come,” says Phillips. “Since that time I have wanted to do something for my son and for others living with seizure disorder.”

The opportunity to do something presented itself when Phillips learned about the Epilepsy Therapy Project (ETP) and the team they were forming to run in the MCM. With over 20 years of running experience, she turned to the sport to ease her own stress during Lucas’ health struggles and began training for the MCM with Team ETP. To date, Phillips has several 10K races under her belt, but this will be her first full marathon.

“When I read about Team ETP forming to run the Marine Corps Marathon I immediately knew I had to be there,” says Phillips. “I had to run too. I knew I wanted to run for my son. I’m hoping I can show him that he can be strong, have courage and have hope for a normal life in the future.”

The Epilepsy Therapy Project is a not-for-profit corporation that researches new therapies for
epilepsy patients. Team ETP runs to fundraise for this group and participants are asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 to support the team’s mission. To date, Phillips has raised over $1,500 to aid those suffering from seizures like Lucas. In turn, team members in similar circumstances to Phillips have provided support throughout her training.

“Running with the other team members is an indescribable feeling,” shares Phillips. “I am honored, touched and deeply moved by the act of doing this marathon together.”

Phillips says that her son is doing well now, however he must take medicine twice a day to control his seizures, which still occur several times a month. Despite his setbacks, Lucas recognizes the hard work his mother has put into training and will be traveling with the rest of the family to cheer on Phillips as she runs the MCM.

“He said he’s very proud of me and that he knows I can do it. He even posted about it on his
Facebook after I had my longest long run a couple of weeks ago- 20.6 miles,” says Phillips.

Phillips’ feelings about finishing the MCM are twofold; she acknowledges the personal achievement she will earn after completing the marathon course but also recognizes the importance of her contribution towards Team ETP’s mission.

“I think about all of the moms and dads and friends of people who seizures- who have watched their loved one struggle,” says Phillips. “If there’s anything I can do to help- I want in. Now!”

For more information about the Epilepsy Therapy Project, please visit their website at https://bos.etapestry.com/fundraiser/EpilepsyTherapyProject/mcm/aboutEvent.do.

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