What it’s like growing up with an epileptic brother.


I grew up, and I’m currently living with a brother that is suffering from Epilepsy amongst other untreatable diseases and conditions. It is scary seeing your younger brother go from being perfectly fine to a full-blown seizure in a matter of seconds and I’m writing this article for those in a similar situation as I was in. Feeling powerless when you see your family member going blue on the kitchen floor and sometimes passing out.

Epilepsy is the tendency to get a lot of seizures. There are lots of different kinds of seizures; Tonic-clonic, Absence seizures, Myoclonic Jerks, Temporal lobe seizures, … or a combination of some of those at the same time.
That is what my brother is suffering from, a combination of Absence with the typical and well-known Tonic-clonic seizures.


The Beginning

The earliest memory I have of an attack he got, dates back to when I was around 7 or 8, so he was 5 or 6 years old. He was lying in my grandmother’s arms, laughing together with her to a song I can’t remember.
It looked like he slammed his head against a pillow all of a sudden, but in a way that looked totally unnatural. He started shaking all over his body soon after. I particularly remember the look on my grandmother’s face and my parent’s car driving off with my mom and brother in the backseat. I thought he was dying. I had never seen an epileptic seizure and my parents hadn’t either.
While I’m writing this, I feel the anxiety creeping up again, my hands are getting sweaty. It’s a memory I will never be able to forget.

After this one instance, he had a couple of sporadic epilepsy attacks but the doctors got control over it pretty quick through medication. I don’t recall any other seizures until about 2 years ago when he was 15 years old.
The time puberty screws around with all boys and girls and the body of a child turns to that of an adult in the span of a couple of years. He suffers from a lot of different diseases and disorders, mainly sprouting from a metabolic disease he’s got. The theory is that his puberty period moved so fast and violently, that his medication doses were too low and could no longer control the seizures.


The Second time

After another unexpected attack, they were now happening on a weekly basis. He would have an attack on Friday, for example, and by the next Monday, he would start having absences. That’s when a person is totally fine and mid-sentence he stops what he’s doing and stares blankly. He wouldn’t fall over, but he would just stand there, staring straight ahead. When we said his name or gave him a hug, he would look at you like I think a person with heavy dementia or a heavy drugged person would. Empty eyes, looking through you. Totally gone from this earth, not knowing where or what anything is. Until he wakes up, like a snap of a finger just like a hypnotist would do on stage, he’s back to normal.

These Absence seizures would start to occur daily. First a small one, not longer than 5 seconds. But gradually increasing in length and strength. Until he would be in this trance for over 5 minutes, then we’d know he’d have a seizure any second.
Typically, we’d bring him to the sofa or a bed to make sure he’s as comfortable as possible and just wait while holding him so he doesn’t hurt himself.


We would look at him and you could see his eyes slowly rolling back, he opens his mouth a little and the pure fear on his face as he would enter a seizure. I have seen some scary moments in my life, but nothing compared to what he must feel when having a seizure. He can’t scream when he’s having one but the constant gasping for air and the panic in his eyes, pupil as wide as possible and black as the night. His lips slowly turning blue, as well as his whole face because he’s not able to breathe in or out.
He transfers from absence seizure, into the ‘traditional’ Tonic-clonic one.
I think the doctors asked us to time the duration of his seizures once, but I can’t remember what the results were. They seemed to last minutes sometimes and there were instances where they would last for so long, that we’d call an ambulance to make sure he’d make it through.
Again, this all looks very alarming, but the brain is very good at self-defense. It will not let the patient stay stiff long enough to do him any harm.
Then again, as my brother suffers from multiple brain-related diseases, this always extra scary for me and my family.


The doctors told us we should gradually increase the dose of the medicine that should prevent these attacks, which we did. It took over a year for him to stop having seizures after my parents took it upon themselves to increase his dose by a bigger amount, almost doubling it.
Since then, he was seizure free until a couple of days ago when he had a violent one after he went on holiday with an organization he went with multiple times. Did one of his pills get forgotten? We’ll never know, but it’s likely.


He is fine now. Fine meaning temporarily free from epileptic seizures as he’s still struggling with other nasty beasties that are hard to battle.


So what is my advice for people in a similar situation?

If you are an adolescent, teenager or anyone really and you have a relative struggling with epilepsy the hard, cold truth is that you can’t do all that much. Of course, you should consult doctors and make sure the right medication is taken.
Besides this, just be there for your relative. In my case, my brother doesn’t have a normal, independent life and can’t communicate as a ‘healthy’ person would. That makes it extra difficult to understand what he feels, wants or doesn’t want. But when the patient is living an otherwise normal life, epilepsy isn’t a deal breaker. Be careful with swimming and heavy exercise and don’t put your relative in a safe, controlling little box when they’re younger. They have a life that is meant to be lived! Make sure the school and their friends are informed on what they have to do if a seizure would occur.


Epilepsy is definitely a hurdle and it can completely change your life but it isn’t life-threatening in most cases. When you have the right medication to keep it under control and a strong group of family and friends to help you through possible hard times, you shouldn’t worry too much.



World Child Cancer Day, Inform Yourself!

As childhood cancer numbers rise, so does the call for concerted global action. Cancer cases in children have risen from 165,000 to 215,000 new cases for children 14 years of age and under, and 85,000 for children above the age of 14, according to a 2015 study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). On a global scale, childhood and adolescent cancer has nearly surpassed infectious diseases as one of the leading causes of childhood mortality (related to disease). There is a large disparity of children that suffer from cancer based on the wealth of the country they are from. For instance, 80% of registered children that live with cancer are from low and middle-income countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America, areas that do not have the specialized care and essential medications needed to treat such ailments.

February 15th is the day for everyone to come together to shine a light on this horrific disease. Today is the day that the Childhood Cancer International (CCI) containing 188 member organizations in 96 countries, and 1000 healthcare professionals from 110 countries who are members of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP), ask everyone to come together and help solve this problem. I am not sure how to solve such a challenge directly at a molecular or cellular level, but I can aid in providing knowledge, informing people, and spreading the word.

So what are the top cancers plaguing our children and what do they do?

#1 Leukemia

Leukemia accounts for approximately 30 percent of all cancers occurring in children. Leukemia occurs in the blood and bone marrow. There are 4 types of Leukemia, the most prevalent in children are:

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Children suffering from this disease will have symptoms of weakness, fatigue, bone and joint pain, pale skin, bleeding and bruising, weight loss, fever, and the list can go on. This is no way to be a kid, am I right? Leukemia is quite aggressive and the best course of action to date is chemotherapy as soon as possible. If you have a higher-risk leukemia the treatment will combine chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant.

Whats the purpose of this?

With high risk Leukemia’s it is pertinent to be incredibly aggressive. Chemotherapy uses harsh chemical substances to irradiate the cancer, but unfortunately the drugs are not as targeted as we might like them to be so they kill healthy and unhealthy cells. Because children are so small, they are are at a higher risk to develop the side effects of harsh chemotherapies such as catching life threatening infections, bleeding, low blood cell counts or related problems. Chemotherapy literally destroys the bone marrow, the stem cell transplant introduces blood forming stem cells into the body so they can differentiate into the various blood cells that are destroyed during high-dose chemotherapy, allowing the patient to withstand the treatment and giving them a better shot at a future. YAY SCIENCE!

#2 Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

This is the second highest occurring form of cancer in children coming in at 26 percent. Because there is a wide spectrum of brain tumor types, the treatment can vary. Most cancers of this variety that occur in children begin in the cerebellum or brain stem (lower parts of the brain). This can stimulate headaches, vomiting, nausea, double or blurred vision, dizziness, trouble walking and using other motor functions, as well as seizures. Spinal cord tumors are less common, but do occur.

If you suffer from this cancer, you will have a team of doctors that will strategize the best way to approach your cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or the use of other drugs as treatments.

What do these treatments entail?

Surgery: Removal of as much of the tumor as possible.
Radiation Therapy: Uses small particles of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: Uses anti-cancer drugs introduced via IV or taken by mouth.
Targeted Therapy: These drugs target the properties in cancer cells that cause the cancer cells or aid in their proliferation. Note: This treatment is used minimally.
Alternative drugs: These drugs may not help in the cancers demise, but they may assuage the symptoms that they cause. These include: corticosteroids (reduce swelling, relieve nausea, vomiting, and headaches), anti-seizure drugs, hormones (helps n cases that the pituitary gland is affected by the cancer).

#3 Neuroblastoma

This cancer begins in the nerve tissue and accounts for 6 percent of childhood cancers. It starts in the nerve cells in a developing embryo or fetus and is rarely found in children over the age of 10. This cancer has no preference on residence, but most often than not starts in the abdomen where it is commonly noticed as swelling.

If a child comes down with a neuroblastoma, they can expect a team of modern day superhero’s to rush to their treatment. Treatment can include, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, a combination of high-dose chemotherapy/radiation therapy and stem cell transplant, retinoid therapy, and immunotherapy.

What are these treatments?

Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and high-dose chemotherapy have been discussed thus far, refer to the treatments for #1 and #2 for a refresher.

Retinoid Therapy: This is recommended after high-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell transplant. Retinoids are related to vitamin A and are referred to as differentiating agents. It is thought that retinoids help cancer cells differentiate into normal cells.
Immunotherapy: Is a group of drugs designed to coax your own immune system into recognizing and attacking the cancer. One type, referred to as monoclonal antibodies, are paired with “immune system hormones,” called cytokines and together they help a child’s immune system to recognize and destroy neuroblastoma cells.

Pretty cool right?

The treatment for these cancers are involved, they require a team of diverse specialists, with state of the art equipment, medication, and facilities, something second and third world nations are not quite capable of providing just yet. There is a dire need for help and the first step is educating people about the issue. February 15th is the International Childhood Cancer Day, do your part to help irradiate this affliction, spread the word, knowledge is power!

#togetherforkidscancer #togethercreatingbetterfutures #ICCD #internationalChildhoodCancerDay #childhoodcancer #WHO


This article was written by Michelle Scire. Michelle Scire works as an analytical Chemist and Free-lance writer. You can visit her website at AlloKSci.com or catch her on social media:

Instagram @Silli_Scientist
Twitter: @Silli_Scientist
Linkedin: Michelle Denise Scire
Website: AlloKSci.com

I own my resume! Rigth?

The question might seem a bit strange and I can already hear you say: “me of course!”

But not so in Recruiterland

An entire multi-billion dollar industry has been built on the trade in résumés. Companies who work with third-party recruitment agencies to attract new employees, pay these agencies the so-called “finder’s fee” for each successful hire. Fees range from 15 up to 30% of a yearly salary (and in some cases even more). In case of a successful hire, the agency that first introduced the candidate to the company will be entitled to the commission. This is how the battle over résumés began and the reason why there are so many recruitment agencies today; it’s big business.

There is a lot of money to be earned with résumés and it’s a very competitive market so if you have been wondering why certain agencies are kind of aggressive in their approach and are trying to pressure you to accept job offers, this is the reason why. Don’t be fooled and make sure you stay in control of your own résumé and be picky about who you trust.

One might question the added value of intermediate agencies anyhow. Examples like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and many others have shown that there are different ways. And to be honest, imagine what the effects on an organization could be if instead of having to spend all this money on fees for recruitment agencies, companies could spend it on training and development plans for employees. Wouldn’t that be a better investment?


But who can you trust? You can ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Are they transparent?
  2. Do they give you the company name and a precise job description? If they don’t, it’s because they are afraid that you apply directly to the company and in that case, they would miss out on the commission in case the company would hire you.
  3. Do they show interest in you when you describe to them what it is that you are looking for or are they just trying to sell you a job in for example sales because that is what you have always done before?
    If they don’t listen to what you have to say, they only care about getting you into another sales function because that is where there will be the highest chance of a match, meaning, yes, commission.
  4. What’s in it for you?
    If you decide to send them your résumé, what will they do for you? What is the service that you will receive from them?
  5. Are they making salary suggestions to you that sound a bit over the top to you?
    Again, think about the 15-30% of the yearly salary that they will get when they succeed in getting you to sign a contract.


At BrightOwl we ensure you that you are still in charge of your résumé. Check this out!

  1. We provide a transparent platform, where companies can look for you for you, the Expert, and where you, can browse through jobs. Companies can browse through your blinded profiles. A blinded profile includes all the information you fill out on you profile EXCEPT: your name, profile picture, and current/previous employer.
  2. If you look for a job on our platform you will always see the precise job description and company name. When you open a full job description, you get redirected to the company’s website.
  3. We have an online platform that looks for the best match with your profile. You can also add a few keywords to narrow down your search.
  4. When you are interested in a job, you can like/favorite it. When a company also shows interest in your profile, they can send you a contact request. Only when you accept their invitation, your contact details will be shared and further steps can be taken.
  5. Our tool is a third party, that connects Experts and companies in life science all over the world. We don’t have any interference in salary negotiations. Our job is to match you with the job, you are looking for. And a company with the Expert they are looking for.

BrightOwl Statistics

An interactive chart that displays interesting statistics about Expert behavior over the last 2 weeks.

Job Dating @BrightOwl

Have you heard about it yet? The new way of applying? It is called Job Dating. Kind of like speed dating, but in a professional environment. In this article, we will explain you the new trend. If you want to be ready for your next application, this is a boat you can’t miss!

What is ‘Job Dating’?

According to the dictionary: “A short encounter between employer and employee through the model of speed dating.”

But how does it really work? Well, employers and employees register on an online platform, where they create a profile. For employees, it is important to show your interests and make yourself a true ‘catch’ for your future employer.

When both parties are interested, you’ll have achieved a match! From this moment you can contact each other for further information.

Why should you ‘Job Date ‘at BrightOwl?

At BrightOwl we stand for transparency, honesty and your interests. Our online platform is a digital matchmaker with a personal touch. (https://brightowl.pro/)

We work with blinded profiles to create a fair chance for all our members. Experts can browse through vacancies while liking, disliking and favoriting the ones they are interested in. Companies on the other hand can browse through our Expert profiles using a few filters like languages, location, education, international travel, skills, … So as an expert is important to fully complete your profile.

We make your search personal by offering an objective overview based on your profile. The overview you get is arranged by the information you give us. We listen to you and what you want!

Suddenly, there appears a smile on your face. Why? You received a message saying you have a match! Confirm it and your personal data will be exchanged. From this point, the company will contact you for further arrangements.

Choose for transparency and fairness, because that is what we give you at BrightOwl!

Don’t hesitate and come find us at https://brightowl.pro/!

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