EastEnders: Is Nancy Carter’s epilepsy story accurate? Charity speaks out

EastEnders: Mick Carter fumes at Nancy and Zack’s kiss

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Nancy (played by Maddy Hill) seems to be able to live a relatively normal life in the BBC soap despite her epilepsy, but this isn’t the case for everyone. However, the way in which EastEnders demonstrates the way in which not much is known about the disorder resonates with many sufferers. Express.co.uk spoke to Charlotte Caldwell, who founded the I Am Billy Foundation after her son was diagnosed with epilepsy at a very young age.

Charlotte’s son Billy suffered his first seizure in 2005, at just four months old. She has since had to watch her son suffer through the pain of the condition while trialling different medications.

She explained: “It’s a really complex condition. So, there are some kids that have a syndrome that causes it, some kids have a genetic condition that causes it, there are some that are fine – they’re developing, hitting other milestones, then all of sudden, maybe at the age of one or four or even seven or 12, they will just develop seizures.”

Billy had a severe variation of epilepsy, and Charlotte described how she “scoured the globe” to keep her son alive.

I am Billy is a campaign to open up patient access through publicly funded cannabis prescriptions, which have been life-changing for Billy.

“There is a lot more work to do and a lot more studies with medicine that needs to be done for epilepsy,” Charlotte added.

“There have been a number of studies done throughout the world, in children with epilepsy, and cannabis oil and there is evidence there that it does help to control seizures.

“I would never advocate that it’s a cure because that would be a very dangerous thing to do. Billy is not cured, Billy will never be cured but he has been seizure-free for 14 months now, which is amazing.”

Speaking about the importance of soaps like EastEnders highlighting the condition so many face, Charlotte said: “It’s amazing when soaps cover the condition, and it’s so helpful to the foundation.

“It can only be a good thing to see that play out. Because it’s raising awareness throughout the public domain.

“So many people watch soaps and to see that played out is a great thing because it demonstrates first and foremost to the public, who may not know anything about epilepsy, what it really is and how it does affect the patient and their family.

“You hear people talk about seizures, but you don’t realise how brutal they are until you witness one first time for yourself.

“Even close family and friends sometimes don’t realise what you’re living with, so for soaps to take a storyline like that on is amazing and I say well done to them.”

In the soap, Nancy seems to be able to manage her condition, for the most part, meaning it isn’t too debilitating, but it still has a profound effect on her on what she can and can’t do.

For example, she recently admitted it upsets her that she will never be able to learn to drive because of the risk her seizures pose.

But for some, the condition has a bigger impact. “The realities are that Billy has it so badly he will never go on to lead a normal life,” Charlotte said.

“To me it’s now normal, and it isn’t until I speak to others I realise how abnormal it is.”

The I Am Billy website describes Charlotte’s ultimate goal: “The sole purpose of this Foundation is that no patient should have to go through the same, long and tortuous ordeal that Billy and I went through for him to access safe, legal, NHS funded life-saving cannabis medicine.”

She described the effect Billy’s condition has had on other members of the family, and said: “A lot of a lot of families are impacted.

“There are parents and families who have said their other children have had to have counselling because it’s very difficult for those children as well.

“It’s very difficult for the parents to lead a normal life. It’s enormous, the impact on the family.”

Nancy has a milder form of the condition, but the way in which her seizures can suddenly strike out of nowhere, and her battle to find medication that works, is an accurate portrayal of what many patients and their families face.

The soap recently saw Nancy trying CBD Oil, which she kept from her mother Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), but Nancy explained how desperate she was to try new things to ease her seizures.

For professional advice and support regarding epilepsy visit https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/.

To find out more about the I Am Billy Foundation, visit https://www.iambilly.uk/.

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