This past July, Desiree Nieckar celebrated her birthday by sharing the gift of her voice—a gift that also helped her recover from brain surgery for epilepsy.
The innovative procedure is part of the Saskatchewan Epilepsy Program led by Dr. José Tellez-Zenteno and his team.
For Desiree, like the 500 patients referred annually for this surgery, the road to diagnosis and treatment was like driving on washboard gravel—slow and arduous. As a child, her petit mal seizures went largely unnoticed, and it took two years to finally be seen and diagnosed at Royal University Hospital.
“As a teen, I just wanted the freedom to be out socializing,” says Desiree. “Because of the challenges of epilepsy, I had to focus on what was important, like school.” But medication left her fatigued, making it difficult to concentrate.
At twenty, Desiree was monitored to determine if she was a candidate for this life-changing surgery. After surgery during rehab, she was inspired to advocate for epilepsy treatment—and pursue medical social work. “I am honoured to serve people who are going through something similar,” she says.
Seven years later, Desiree is seizure-free and singing again—for the residents of Parkridge where she works, at Telemiracle this March and professionally elsewhere. “Singing is so healing and I love connecting that with my work,” Desiree affirms.