President Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod and his wife Susan discussed their daughter's long battle with epilepsy on Fox News Monday.
"For many many reasons, this disease has been really kept in the dark ages," said Susan. "Epilepsy's been known since biblical times, and yet nobody has really been out there saying, why? Why is this happening? What can we do to stop it?"
Lauren Axelrod developed a severe case of epilepsy at age seven. She began experiencing constant seizures -- sometimes up to five times a day. The seizures caused tremendous damage to her developing brain, and her doctors did not know how to make them stop.
"It was a very lonely feeling; no one could give us answers, David told Fox News. "We didn't know anyone else at that time that was going through this."
The only available treatment was large doses of medicine that could put Lauren into a coma-like state. By age 15 she had tried 20 different kinds of drugs, various special diets, experimental therapies and even surgery, to no avail.
Susan and a group of parents founded a nonprofit called the Citizens United For Research In Epilepsy, or CURE, to raise money for epilepsy research and awareness.
One misconception around the disease is that it only happens during childhood, but epilepsy can be developed at any stage in life, explained Susan. CURE has paid particular attention to soldiers returning home with traumatic brain injury, who are at risk for developing epilepsy.
Research around the disease is relatively new, but progress is being made, said Susan. Awareness campaigns have allowed people to come out and say, "There's nothing to be ashamed of. This is a condition to the brain, and a complicated one."
For Lauren, a breakthrough came in 2000 when the anti-convulsant drug Keppra proved effective in stopping her seizures. "The further away she gets from these seizures, the more you see who she really is," said David.
David And Susan Axelrod Discuss Their Daughter's Battle With Epilepsy
Susan Axelrod Discusses Epilepsy Research Organization CURE