Mason’s Story (as told by his mother, Steph)

Mason’s journey with epilepsy began unexpectedly in August 2023 when he was just nine years old. Diagnosed with Benign Childhood Epilepsy, Mason and his family embarked on a path filled with uncertainties, challenges, but also remarkable resilience and determination.

Living with epilepsy meant making adjustments and accommodations in every aspect of Mason’s life, from school to his passion for gymnastics as tonic-clonic seizures presented risks that needed careful management. His parents, Steph and Michael, vividly recall the initial shock and worry as they navigated this new reality.

“Witnessing Mason’s first seizure before his epilepsy diagnosis was scary and confronting as a parent. You can’t help but worry that the seizures will start to occur more frequently or become prolonged. As his seizures happen whilst asleep, we ensure that his bed and sleeping arrangements are safe and check on him throughout the night.”

Despite the challenges, Mason’s spirit remained unwavering. As a fourth grader, his school life continued relatively unaffected, thanks to the support of his teachers and understanding classmates. However, moments of insecurity surfaced when discussing his epilepsy.

“Luckily his school life hasn’t been affected too much. He has struggled a bit with some embarrassment and the feeling of being different to other children when I have needed to discuss his epilepsy with the teachers.”

Mason’s love for gymnastics emerged at a young age, showcasing his remarkable strength and agility. Traveling from Bendigo to Ballarat for rigorous training sessions became routine, with Mason’s dedication earning him a spot in competitive programs. But epilepsy disrupted his training schedule, forcing him to take breaks and miss sessions.

“He quickly progressed through the recreational gymnastics levels, and at 5 years old, we began travelling to Ballarat where there was a competitive MAG (Men’s Artistic Gymnastics) program that he was accepted into. During covid lockdowns, Mason continued his strength training at home via zoom. After Mason’s second seizure last year, we paused his training schedule whilst we waited for the results of an EEG and then subsequently waited to seek advice from a paediatric neurologist. He had over a month off training until we got the all-clear to return to activities as normal. He has subsequently missed a number of training sessions due to seizures and clusters.”

Despite the setbacks, Mason continued to excel in gymnastics. His persistence and hard work paid off when he clinched the title of the 2024 Victorian State Champion for Level 6U, a testament to his resilience and dedication.

“Mason is the youngest athlete by two years competing at this level in Victoria. Most of his competitors now train 20 plus hours per week due to the technical nature of the required skills and routines across six apparatuses, whereas Mason continues to train ten hours per week. We, as well as Mason’s coaches and his neurologist, have always put Mason’s wellbeing first. We are mindful of the travel involved for Mason to train in the sport he is passionate about, ensuring that he gets enough rest, and takes breaks as he needs when seizures or illness occurs. His next goal is to qualify for Nationals in May 2025.”

Beyond gymnastics, Mason’s interests span a wide range of sports and intellectual pursuits. From basketball to mathematics, he embraces every opportunity to learn and grow, defying stereotypes and stigma associated with epilepsy.

In their quest for knowledge and support, Mason’s family turned to organisations like the Epilepsy Foundation, finding valuable resources and guidance. They emphasise the importance of raising awareness about epilepsy, dispelling myths, and promoting understanding.

“We are still relatively new in managing this, however the Epilepsy Foundation website and volume of detailed resources that it includes has been really helpful and supportive to us as parents so far.”

For Mason, epilepsy is not a limitation but a challenge to overcome. With every seizure, he emerges stronger and more determined, inspiring others to embrace life’s obstacles with courage.

“Mason has struggled initially with a feeling of embarrassment around his seizures and epilepsy diagnosis. He understands now that having epilepsy is not his fault and it is not in his control when he has seizures. He would really like for other kids to still be able to do what they love while living with epilepsy, whether it be in sport or something else.”

As Mason continues to defy the odds, his message rings clear: with determination and support, anything is possible.

 

You can help us support people living with epilepsy, like Mason, by donating today. Visit fundraising.epilepsyfoundation.org.au/donation

 

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