CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – It's believed more than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.
The brain disorder can cause hundreds of seizures a day -- turning patients' lives upside-down.
But the disease helped create a friendship between two young women.
Kellee Chavis and Heather Brookins met in a doctor's office.
"We just always kind of sat beside each other. Our appointments were nearly always around the same time," Brookins said.
They talked about living with epilepsy and the blackouts of time they both experienced.
"I don't remember my sister's wedding; I don't remember family occasions," Chavis said.
"I was very self-conscious, depressed," Brookins said.
Both underwent brain surgery and tried dozens of anti-seizure medications. When nothing worked, they found the RNS system by Neuropace.
"It monitors the brain activity, looks for seizure activity, and if it detects that, it delivers an electrical stimulus," said Dr. Eldad Hadar, professor of neurosurgery, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.
The electrical stimulus blocks or reduces the severity of the seizure. Chavis and Brookins had the device implanted.
"I've officially been seizure-free for a year now," Chavis said.
"It's literally given me my life back," Brookins said.
Brookins now has the energy to take care of her 6-year-old son, Jackson.
Kellee just graduated with a degree in healthcare management.
They continue to benefit from new technology.
Neuropace recently increased the battery life of their RNS device from four to eight years.
Despite their busy lives, the two still text each other every day.