Events & News


Seizure Star: Lance Fogan, MD

Dr. Lance Fogan was our Epilepsy Star in our December 2015 issue.  At that time, he was the new author of "Dings" (a wonderful novel about a family dealing with a child who is failing at school and who only after a series of challenges is eventually diagnosed as having epilepsy), teaching as clinical professor of neurology at UCLA and sponsoring a table at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles Annual Walk to End Epilepsy where he was planning on discussing epilepsy from a doctor's point of view and highlighting the epilepsy-educational value of DINGS.  It's been nearly four years and here we are checking in with him again to hear what he has been doing since then (spoiler alert: we know he has been incredibly busy in the world of epilepsy and has even become a playwright!

Tell us about your book "Dings": how you came upon the idea, how you used your medical expertise to make it realistic, how you have been raising epilepsy awareness through your book and anything more.

My medical-mystery novel DINGS, published in 2013, was awarded 4 out of 4 stars in November, 2018 by "4 out of 4 stars"

The writer has very cleverly embedded all the info about epilepsy into the story of a family. The storytelling is quite imaginative. At times, it feels like a crime thriller, in which the disease is the perpetrator and breadcrumbs are thrown throughout the story to reveal its identity! In truth, the writing style is the true hero of this novel. The story is told from the point of view of a mother which places its perspective at a very critical angle. There are a lot of emotions, both happy and sad, in it and parents will highly relate to the Goldens. In addition to epilepsy, this book also talks about things like PTSD, the situation of a single mother, and the struggles of raising children. So, there is a wide spectrum when it comes to the things that the author wants to focus on. Everyone should read this book.

Additionally, a purchase-intent-focus group of Onlinebookclub consisting of 44 readers were asked if they would complete reading DINGS to the end based only on evaluating the cover, the title and the first 10 pages of the novel. Onlinebookclub considered a book to be very successful if 10% of the evaluation group would read the entire book. Forty-three percent of these DINGS samplers wrote that they would complete the novel. 

I got the idea to write this novel as a member of a private writing class I participate in each Saturday in my writing mentor's private home in Los Angeles since 2000. Advisor to President Obama, David and wife Susan Axelrod, wrote about their adult daughter's serious epilepsy in the Los Angeles Times. Upon reading this, I immediately conceived of the story-line that became my medical mystery novel completed four years later. DINGS is available at on-line book sellers as a book, eBook and as an audiobook. 

Over the years, my book has been disseminated to many other settings where it continues to educate. For example, the Mayo Clinic's Neurology Department in Rochester, MN is using DINGS to teach medical students and neurology residents epilepsy, its course and patients' and families' emotional involvement in dealing with epilepsy and treatment.

What other epilepsy awareness activities have you been a part of? Are you active on social media, working with a local foundation, and educating in other venues?

* I have spoken at the California State Association of School Psychologists on three separate occasions. My talk's title is: "Is It a Learning Disorder, a Hearing Problem, Autism or Epilepsy?" The PowerPoint talk stresses non-convulsive epilepsy. One psychologist told me, "I heard your talk two years ago and I suspected epilepsy as you outlined in two children. They were referred to their physicians."

 * I influenced New York State Law. In the spring of 2018 news reports detailed a woman who ran through a stop sign in Park Slope section of Brooklyn, N.Y. She killed a two-year old, a four-year old and injured a pregnant woman who subsequently lost her baby weeks later. The out-of-control car pushed the stroller 350 feet; the driver had no memory of this accident. As a neurologist seeing the report on TV I immediately suspected a seizure as the cause. Sure enough, the reporter then said the driver suffered from "multiple sclerosis, seizures and heart problems." Seizures would most likely explain this tragedy. 

At the time of that tragedy, only six states (California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania) required doctors to report people with epilepsy by law to health authorities. New York was NOT one of those mandatory-reporting states. A cousin of mine who lives in Brooklyn, NY, shared this with his local representative in Albany. Within three days a bill was introduced in the N.Y. State Legislature. On 11 July, 2019 I received a message from the New York State legislator's office: "The Assembly wouldn't let us get that bill through so we worked on and amended a version that we were able to pass-A4751A- 

which would require DMV to suspend the license of a driver when there is evidence of a loss of consciousness.  You can read the bill and memo on the link above."

* The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles sponsors an Epilepsy Walk each year at the Rose Bowl football stadium. I sponsor a table there to discuss epilepsy and DINGS to the 5000 attendees. I often caution patients and families about how to cook safely (using back burners), also not to bathe or shower unless someone is at home and the bathroom door is open. I know of 17 drownings in the bathroom, to date; five drowned in the shower in 2 inches of water falling and blocking the drain. If a mother can't stand-by at all times when a child is bathing, have the child sing. If singing stops mom can check on the child. (see the feature article of this newsletter edition to read more about safety tips for epilepsy in the home).

* I also continue to raise epilepsy awareness with monthly epilepsy blogs (108, to date) discussing practical information and available on my website: I cover topics discussing new treatments, efficacy of surgical treatments, febrile seizures, seizure-service dogs, sudden-unexplained-death-in-epilepsy (SUDEP), pregnancy and epilepsy, driving, occasional excerpts from my epilepsy novel, DINGS and many other topics offering useful information for patients/families. Each blog is announced on my social media sites and people are referred to read my blog on the link to my website at

We know that you have also written a play. Tell us about it, how you became interested in writing it and whether we can see it somewhere.

Another of my writing projects is a play I'm working on and attempting to get produced: "And, Ain't I a Woman?" It is about a black transgender woman in her 50's telling her life story to her psychiatrist's department (theater audience). This play was conceived upon reading about a Transgender woman discussed in an endocrinology conference in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association several years ago. I came across research I haven't seen discussed anywhere else: in 1995 Nature featured a research study on the brains of six transgender women who died of various causes. The sex nucleus (Bed Nucleus of the Straia Terminalis) in the brain of all six conformed in relative size to heterosexual women rather than to their biological male status (none had transitioning anatomical sex changes). My play thus promotes the courage these one million individuals in America have in order to face societies' discrimination and violence in order to "be who they truly are."

Is there anything else that we haven't asked and that you think we would like to know about you?

I also continue to give PowerPoint talks of my paper: "The Neurology in Shakespeare." The paper highlights Shakespeare's characters and poetry with neurological problems. (Archives of Neurology; August 1989, volume 46: pages 922-924). It won the American Academy of Neurology's History of Neurology First Prize in 1988. Discussions of Othello's and Julius Caesar's fascinating epilepsy are included (refer to the Neuroshakespeare tab at

And last of all, I recently turned 80 years old. To stay vital and active as a widower since October, 2015, I go to the gym four mornings/week, I teach neurology at UCLA, I attend weekly neurology conferences, I travel the world, and in my private writing class, I am currently writing, "Debra of the Butterfly." It tells of my wife's 31 years of breast cancer and of our life together. After weeks in hospice, she told her hospice team, "You must keep me alive until 11 a.m. on June 13th. Lance and I were married at 2 p.m. eastern time in Buffalo, N.Y. I always dreamed of being married 50 years." We made it. I asked my daughter, "What should I get Mommy for our 50th anniversary?" Her suggestion: buy the name of a star out in a galaxy faraway: 'Debra of the Butterfly.' Butterflies were her thing. My woman dentist, teary-eyed, told me, even two years later, "Whenever I look up at the night sky I think of your wife."

Debra died four months later in our bed, both daughters holding her hands as she took her last breath.

Thank you, Dr. Fogan for sharing with us and updating us. You are an example to follow. We wish you many more years contributing to this field.

Twitter Facebook