By Kaylee Mtanous
My name is Kaylee Mtanous. I am currently a senior at Winona State University, graduating this Spring with a legal studies degree. I had my first seizure in January of 2020 and was formally diagnosed with epilepsy in April of the same year. In my twenty years of life, I have had 23 surgeries on my brain, heart, stomach, and lungs – all of which are attributed to an underlying condition called hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is characterized by excess cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain.
Needless to say, I was devastated when an infection in my brain led to the development of my epilepsy. Nonetheless, I am to have the unwavering support of people I am privileged to call friends and family and the expert care of world-renowned healthcare afforded to me by Mayo Clinic.
It is because of this privilege that I feel it is my duty to spread awareness about epilepsy. I have the honor of co-hosting the piloted Young Adults Connect Group, which has been pivotal in my healing and recovery from the medical adversity I have faced. This group was created with the understanding that young adults face an added level of difficulty with managing this chronic condition because they are in the midst of learning how to be independent and self-sufficient. Yet, they are also navigating how not to let their epilepsy impede their progress. The Connect Group intends to create a safe space for young adults to freely communicate about their challenges and speak about things they have found to be beneficial when dealing with their epilepsy.
I pride myself as being an advocate for minorities as a Latina woman myself, an advocate for children subjected to neglect or abuse (which is what I would like to devote myself to as an aspiring attorney), and as someone who draws attention to medical conditions that are underrepresented or misunderstood. The opportunity to serve as a resource for other individuals experiencing medical hardship appeases my desire to be an advocate. I am glad to be part of a program that empowers the next generation of leaders, regardless of the challenges they face. After all, adversity is said to carry seeds of benefit.