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Alan Faneca: 'I never want any health problems to define us. We must define ourselves'

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Alan Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 15 years old, and while it was challenging to overcome, he didn't let the disorder prevent him from living out his dream of playing in the NFL and having a Hall of Fame career.

Faneca took control of his fate and didn't let epilepsy define him as a person.

"I instinctively knew that I was not going to let anything keep me from fulfilling this dream," Faneca said during his Hall of Fame speech about his diagnosis. "I knew as long as listened to my doctors and followed their guidance, along with my support system, I would be fine. I always told myself and spoke it as a fact that epilepsy is part of me, but it does not define me. We are in charge of our destiny."

During his career and in retirement, Faneca has been an advocate for trying to create awareness for epilepsy. Tom Reed of DKPittsburghSports wrote a great piece in April on Faneca in regards to all the work that he has done and continues to do for epilepsy awareness and other neurological disorders.

And during his speech on Sunday night in Canton, Faneca also gave hope and inspiration to others who are battling health issues, disabilities, or just challenges in life.

"I never want any health problems to define us. We must define ourselves," Faneca said. "Whatever one’s challenge in life, whether we have a disability or not, my message is always to maintain an integral commitment. Do not let anything stop us from fulfilling our vision. Be resilient. We all get knocked down in life. But it’s how we get back up that matters."

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