Family 411: The struggle of being diagnosed with epilepsy
Epilepsy can strike anyone at any time.
There's no cure, but a unique surgery is transforming lives.
Jennifer Casto draws inspiration from a higher power.
"Preparing sermons are hard work anyway, fortunately we trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us."
Jennifer spreads the word of God, as a United Methodist pastor.
She's done it for 25 years.
During that time, Jennifer also struggled with a debilitating disorder.
Jennifer has epilepsy.
"It was diagnosed relatively early so that I could get on medications."
One thing many may take for granted, Jennifer couldn't do on her own.
"Tat was the end of my driving."
Epilepsy is a common chronic condition in the United States.
"In general, one in 26 people can develop epilepsy."
It can hit a person out of the blue.
"It can affect anyone at any age. It's slightly more common in children and then as people age."
Jennifer could still work, but for six years, relied on others after driving was taken out of the equation.
"Just losing that sense of freedom is very difficult."
When medications no longer worked, she became a candidate for a unique surgery called laser ablation.
"Anything that can bring a sense of hope is worth pursuing."
It's minimally-invasive with quick recovery time, compared to traditional brain surgery.
"The goal is to ablate this."
Neurosurgeon Girish Hiremath says diseased brain is burned away.
"Pass a laser catheter into the structures of the rain that are diseased in which are producing seizures."
A way to control epilepsy and either reduce or eliminate medication.
A sense of freedom comes in many forms.
For Jennifer, it's what epilepsy took away.
"It allows me to drive again which is such freedom."
Casto has been seizure free for a year and a half since the surgery.
Doctors recommend families discuss any surgery together to weigh risk and benefits.