If you are a child of the early 2000s, or are a parent to one, you may recognise Stacey McClean as one-eighth of the pop group S Club Juniors. This band was created as a spin-off of the group S Club 7 in 2001.
After four years together, the group split up and some members went on to form girl band The Saturdays, while Stacey’s career took her in a different direction. She is now 27, and a solo singer gigging around the country full time.
But even with so many life experiences from the age of 12, the Blackpool-born star couldn’t have been prepared for what was to come next.
“In 2014, my mum had a seizure at work completely out of the blue. It was about a month later when she had another seizure while she was driving. Luckily she was going slowly and only bumped the car in front. My brother was with her and helped her stop the car. She was 45 when she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“Everyone considers my mum to be a really strong person, and she is. So for her to be put in such a vulnerable position and to not know when a seizure’s going to strike, I think that’s been the scariest part. For the first year when she was having seizures, we were basically all on edge and really overprotective of her. I can imagine that was quite annoying for her.
“Losing her independence was absolutely one of the most difficult things for her. She didn’t feel like she had the freedom to do the things that she wanted, like maybe jump on the train to go see a friend. She just felt like she was trapped.
“When you hear epilepsy, you associate it with the seizures and sometimes I think that dealing with the condition is more than just dealing with the seizures. It’s about how it affects your life as well.
“Before this happened, I knew probably next to nothing about epilepsy. I knew that there were seizures involved, but I didn’t know you might bite your tongue or wet yourself.
“I’ve only ever seen a seizure once. It was Boxing Day and we went to the Christmas sales in the town centre in Blackpool. It couldn’t have been any busier. Even after being told what to do if a person has a seizure, when it happened, everything that my mum told me just completely left my head.
“Everyone was crowding round. People were coming out of shops asking if they should call an ambulance and bringing us water. Other people were just curious as to what was going on and hovering around and making the situation worse.
“There was someone from St John Ambulance walking past us just when it happened, so he was really helpful. But seeing someone that you love, especially your mum, being in that state, it was just awful. Every time I think of it, it really upsets me.
“But now she is one year seizure-free, and you can see the change in her. She’s so much happier. She is still having side-effects from her medication, but she is taking it day by day.
“I definitely think more could be done to raise epilepsy awareness. I’m 27 and I’m only just learning about it. I think it’s so easy to just take a few minutes to understand what it is, how to help if you see someone having a seizure. It definitely needs to be discussed more, and maybe in young people as well.”
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As we gear up to Purple Day, don ourselves in purple and get ready to spread the word about epilepsy, it is good to look back at where it all began