Living with epilepsy: Local family takes challenges one day at a time

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A family spokesperson for Cameron Boyce says the Disney star suffered from epilepsy, and that his tragic passing was due to a seizure as a result of it.

It's a condition that experts say 1 person in 26 will develop at some point in their life.

Maria Jimenez's son, 28-year-old Austin Garcia, was diagnosed with epilepsy, and the news of Boyce's tragic passing was a shock that weighed heavily on her mind.

"Something just told me - he had an epileptic seizure," Maria said.

And even before family members confirmed the young actor had epilepsy, Maria said she had a sense of their family's nightmare was because it's the same fear that keeps her up at night.

Maria keeps a close eye on Austin, who also has autism.

"It's scary. Every night, I mean, he does snore, which in a way - is good, because I know he's breathing and is alive," she said.

Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt other brain functions and cause seizures.

Seizures are a disruption of the electrical communication between neurons.

Sudden unexpected death from epilepsy is fairly uncommon. It affects about one in 1,000 people who have epilepsy.

The Epilepsy Foundation says while seizure medicines are the mainstay of epilepsy treatment, there are other approaches to think about too.

And they've got lots of resources for people who may have been recently diagnosed.

But even with the most compliant patient, medication can't prevent all seizures.

Austin takes anti-seizure medications and follows a modified ketogenic diet. He's been seizure free for 12 years.

But his mom Maria refuses to take anything for granted.

"I pray a lot. I bless him every night. Because life is so precious, as we all know. So I just count each day as a blessing."
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