Actress Chelsea Halfpenny said she started having symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in her early 20s, and admitted it was a ‘devastating blow’ when she was given her diagnosis by doctors
Emmerdale ‘s Chelsea Halfpenny has opened up about living with an ‘lifelong incurable illness’ after being diagnosed in her early 20s.
The 30-year-old actress, who plays Amy Wyatt in the ITV soap, first began suffering from symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease when she was 22, and after six months of waiting, she was told she had ulcerative colitis.
Chelsea detailed her health journey in a guest post for Crohn’s & Colitis UK’s Instagram account to mark #CrohnsAndColitisAwarenessWeek, as she tried to normalise the condition by revealing how she came to terms with being diagnosed with the incurable bowel condition.
“I left worried and confused with a pamphlet full of information about a condition I’d never even heard of before. It felt like a devastating blow,” she shared.
“A ‘lifelong incurable illness’ was an extremely scary concept at my age and, considering none of my closest family or friends had heard of it either, left me feeling incredibly lonely,” Chelsea admitted.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed, and while there’s no known cure, the actress has been able to manage her condition over the least eight years.
“As time went on, I learnt to manage my symptoms so that they weren’t affecting my day-to-day life. Ultimately my goal was (and still is) to make sure my body is as healthy and strong as it can be if it’s working hard to fight this disease every day,” she explained.
Chelsea said her condition has ‘remained the same’ since the day she was diagnosed, and luckily, it hasn’t affected her career as she’s not suffered from any debilitating flare-ups.
“I’ve never had to take a day off work due to my IBD and it hasn’t affected my career, so I do count myself extremely lucky in that sense. TV work can be long, hard, tiring days, and coming into the musical theatre world more recently I was worried how it might affect me doing live performances, but so far so good!” she wrote.
While she acknowledged ‘everyone’s journey’ with inflammatory bowel disease is different, she’s discovered talking about her condition – and her struggles – has helped enormously.
“It can feel lonely at times but I’ve found that talking about really does help,” Chelsea added.
She’s started to see her diagnosis as a ‘positive’, as it meant she has overhauled how she approaches her day-to-day life, and has a much more optimistic outlook.
“It’s taught me to truly appreciate my body, it forced me to look at how I was living my life and how I could enhance it by making better choices for my physical and mental health,” she said.