Whitney Goulstone

Mother refuses to let epilepsy define her

Whitney Goulstone’s dream was to be a writer who championed causes. She grew up in family that nurtured the courage to speak out against injustice. At age 13 she marched in a Washington, D.C. pro-choice demonstration. In high school she gave HIV/AIDS lectures and lobbied for the environment and homeless.

But in 1997, at age 19, Whitney Goulstone’s life took a dramatic turn. She had her first grand mal seizure, and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Ever determined, Whitney vowed not to let the disease get in the way of her living. So she moved to England, fell in love and married. She had the occasional seizure, and took her epilepsy medication. In 2006, Whitney and husband Richard moved to Kettleby, Ontario to begin a family.

That’s when everything changed.

Whitney had a violent seizure while breastfeeding her newborn son, Andrew, and dropped him. Andrew suffered a fractured skull.

That eventually healed but during her second pregnancy, with daughter Lillian, Whitney was having several out-of-the-blue drop seizures a day and once fell down a flight of stairs. By 2010, Whitney was wearing a helmet and confined to a wheelchair in her house. She could not cook, clean or care for her two young children. She could not bathe or go to the washroom on her own. Richard had to quit his job to be a 24/7 caregiver. Whitney vowed something must change.

That’s when she turned to Toronto Western Hospital Neurologist Dr. Danielle Andrade and Neurosurgeon Dr. Taufik Valiante. Dr. Valiante and the TWH Epilepsy Monitoring Unit team determined Whitney’s seizures were caused by a tangerine-sized lesion on the right side of her brain. They also confirmed Whitney was a candidate for surgery.

In December 2010, Whitney put her faith in Dr. Valiante and his team – and underwent surgery to remove the lesion.

Since then - Whitney’s been seizure free. She’s rejoicing the second chance she’s been given to be a Mom and a wife. “To be where I am now is nothing sort of a miracle in my eyes,” says Goulstone.

Her dream has come full circle; Whitney is now deeply involved in championing a new cause – raising awareness and funding for the Toronto Western Hospital Epilepsy program.

To learn more about Whitney’s story, please watch the video available on YouTube.

1 Comment(s)
mary Hill
2012-11-27 18:48:31
I would like to nominate my daughter Whitney as a person of extraordinary courage. I watched her suffer with epilepsy and make always brave choices to never give up. Her courage to keep going and her faith that she could be well never wavered. Every day was perilous(drop seizures, stitches,concussions, helmets, wheel chair) but she trusted her doctors implicitly and her smiles made us all have the courage to keep going forward. Her's is a miracle and a testament to extraordinary courage. I know because I'm her mother. I was with her and I could never have done what she did nor have made the decisions she made to survive not knowing if she would ever be seizure free. Whitney is the most courageous person I've ever known. She never gave up but just kept moving toward the day when she could be the mom she always wanted to be to her 2 little ones. She is grateful for every seizure free day and the life that the amazing doctors have given her. So Whitney is our family's nomination for our "Person of Courage".
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