Monica Lovelace of Modesto was among patients interviewed for a "60 Minutes" report on people suffering from epilepsy. The segment is slated to air Sunday starting at 6 p.m. on Channel 13 and other CBS stations.
Lovelace, who has struggled with epilepsy since age 5, had surgery at a Bay Area hospital in May in which a brain stimulation device was implanted in her head to try to control her seizures. The same system is used to control seizures for Shannen Soldate of Oakdale, who was featured in a Bee story in August 2008.
A news crew taped and filmed Lovelace before her surgery, and the network flew her to New York City in August for an interview with CBS news anchor Katie Couric. It was the first out-of-state trip for the 26-year-old mother of two because of the limitations of the disease.
The episode's producers wanted to know about the lifestyles of people with epilepsy, she said.
"Behind the scenes, she was more funny than when you watch her on TV," Lovelace said of Couric. "It was easy to talk with her when I didn't pay attention to the cameras."
Lovelace started having seizures at age 5, but made her way through grade school and high school without much trouble. About a year after graduation, the debilitating seizures came at a rate of 14 to 21 per month. She quit college and wasn't able to work.
She got married and rarely goes out in public unless another adult is with her, she said.
Because medication failed to eliminate the seizures, Lovelace was a candidate for the clinical trial to test the effectiveness and safety of the brain stimulation system. The high-tech system detects irregular brain waves that signal the onset of a seizure and delivers a mild electric current to stop it cold.
She completed the blinded part of the trail, during which participants do not know if the system is activated or not. The system was turned on last week. If the treatment is successful, Lovelace would like to finish college, get a driver's license and work.
"I want her to be seizure-free," said Sally Cordero, her mother. "Everything in her life has been put on hold."
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.