Cherylee Houston, 44, has played Izzy Armstrong in ITV’s Coronation Street since 2010. Prior to the show, when the soap star was 23, she was diagnosed with a condition known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Since her diagnosis, Cherylee has been in a wheelchair and experiences painful symptoms on a weekly basis. But she insists her acting career plays a big part in easing her pain.
“I am continually in pain…yet there’s something about acting that enables me to break through my pain levels,” Cherylee revealed speaking on BBC Radio 4 show The Agony and the Ecstasy last year.
“There are a couple of times a week, at least, I get stuck where I can’t physically move, get out of bed, get dressed, do anything for myself, my voice goes.”
What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)?
It’s a rare connective tissue disorder and there are 13 types.
Hyper mobile EDS (hEDS) is the most common type, but Cherylee has type III hypermobility.
The NHS explains: “The different types of EDS are caused by faults in certain genes that make connective tissue weaker.
“Depending on the type of EDS, the faulty gene may have been inherited from one parent or both parents.
“Sometimes the faulty gene is not inherited, but occurs in the person for the first time.
“EDS can affect people in different ways. For some, the condition is relatively mild, while for others their symptoms can be disabling.
“Some of the rare, severe types can be life threatening.”
What are the symptoms?
Many types of EDS share the same symptoms.
These can include:
- An increased range of joint movement
- Stretchy skin
- Fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily
You should see your GP if you have the symptoms of EDS.
Usually, there’s no need to worry if you only have a few symptoms and they’re not causing any problems.
The NHS further advises: “Joint hyper mobility, for example, is relatively common, affecting around one in 30 people. So it’s unlikely to be caused by EDS if you do not have any other symptoms.
“Your GP may refer you to a joint specialist if you have problems with your joints and they suspect EDS.”
Another soap star with a movement disability is Emmerdale’s James Moore.