Celebrity Catchphrase: Brenda Edwards breaks the buzzer
Fast-forward more than a decade, and Brenda Edwards taken a regular seat on Loose Women and now presents BBC One’s Songs of Praise. However, after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, she developed peripheral neuropathy. On September 18, 2019 – while taking her usual seat on the Loose Women’s panel – Brenda spoke about the side effects of her ill health. “I am someone who is guilty of suffering in silence with certain things,” she said.
“Obviously with my cancer and everything, I was happy to talk about that.
“But one of the side effects of that, which I do keep to myself, is I have peripheral neuropathy in my fingers and my toes.”
What’s peripheral neuropathy?
“Basically it’s pins and needles,” explained Brenda. “Constant pins and needles.”
Brenda continued: “My toes… [they] feel like ice blocks. Frozen… painful.”
The NHS explained further: “Peripheral neuropathy develops when nerves in the body’s extremities, such as the hands, feet and arms, are damaged.”
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In the UK, one in 10 people over the age of 55 are likely to be affected by the condition.
As well as numbness and tingling in the feet or hands, there can also be a burning, stabbing or shooting pain in affected areas.
For some people, the condition can result in a loss go balance and co-ordination.
It can also lead to muscle weakness, especially in the feet, which can be worked on with physiotherapy and walking aids.
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Peripheral neuropathy is mainly caused by type 1 and type 2 diabetes, where high blood sugar levels damage the nerves.
However, as seen with Brenda, this isn’t the only cause for the condition.
A serious complication of the disease is an infected foot ulcer that can lead to gangrene and amputation.
When there’s no feeling in the feet – akin to Brenda’s – then there’s a risk that a cut on your foot can go unnoticed.
A blister can form, for example, due to badly fitted shoes; this can continually be irritated without any recognition.
As a result, the blister can develop into an ulcer – still unbeknown to the person with peripheral neuropathy – that can become infected.
Gangrene – the death of body tissue – could then occur, which typically starts in the toes.
This is why it’s important to have regular health check-ups at the GP’s clinic and to keep an eye on your feet if you have the condition.
Certain drugs can be prescribed to address peripheral neuropathy, such as steroids.
Another drug option is immunosuppressants or injections of immunoglobulin.
All treatment options are best discussed with your GP who will have access to your medical history.
Do be aware that the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy may not be treatable, thus symptoms can persist.
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