Ballyclare PANDAS sufferer Cameron Lindsay and his mum Natasha have appeared on ITV’s This Morning today (October 19) with Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley to raise awareness of the local lad’s distressing neurological condition.
The Newtownabbey Times has followed 14-year-old Cameron’s story from the start, as his family battled to come to terms with the disease and then held a series of fundraising events before seeking treatment in the USA.
Cameron suffers from the neurological condition Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS).
Since contracting the rare condition in April 2014, Cameron’s family say that they have watched their beloved son change completely while battling the disease
His mother has previously told how Cameron has been left “unrecognisable” by PANDAS, which causes symptoms including tics, age regression, OCD, hallucinations, emotional crises, irritability and aggression as well as severe head pain.
“It’s like an earthquake, a sudden, violent attack without warning,” Natasha explained.
Speaking to TV stars Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley, Natasha told how Cameron had rapidly got “progressively worse” after his diagnosis.
“The next three weeks were horrendous, he would have been up all night screaming with the pain in his head,” she recalled.
“The hallucinations got bad, he saw Adolf Hitler and Colonel Custer stabbing or shooting him and saying he couldn’t talk to us as they would shoot him.
“He got very violent towards us.
“It culminated in my mum and myself wrestling a bread knife from his throat in the kitchen. That was a bad night.”
Natasha told the TV hosts that there is a correlation between the stress Cameron’s brain is under and a deterioration in his condition.
Philip Schofield then informed viewers that the show had chosen to show some of the less distressing videos of Cameron suffering from a PANDAS attack.
“We opted not to show the others as they were so traumatic, he was so distressed,” explained Phillip, after images showing Cameron battling complex motor tics were broadcast.
In response to a question from Schofield over what bothered him most about the condition, Cameron told them via video link from another room in the studio that it was not being able to go to school and “join in classes and sports.”
Asked if he could remembers what happened during the worst episodes, Cameron replied: “I can’t remember at the moment, it hasn’t been at its worst in a while but if I catch a cold or bug it affects me a lot more, last year I caught glandular fever and was off school for four weeks.”
Natasha told Phillip and Christine that Cameron would “love to do more but the neurological damage has greatly impacted his ability.”
“PANDAS children are very good at holding it together in public and at home can fall apart,” she explained.
Schofield then referred to the use of the words “exorcist syndrome” to describe PANDAS as a “very cruel term”.
“Exorcist syndrome is for an acute, severe crisis which is most common in juveniles, it’s not a nice term but unfortunately it’s accurate about what happens,” Natasha replied.
Schofield, who has presented This Morning since 2002, admitted that before the local pair came on the show he had “never heard” of PANDAS.
“The reason you are here is to raise awareness, I’ve been doing this show for a long time and I’ve never heard of this,” he stated.
Natasha told him that PANDAS syndrome was linked to anorexia, and that she wanted to get a support network set up.
The family is also seeking further treatment for Cameron in the USA.
However, with each round costing thousands of dollars they have launched an ongoing fundraising drive.
Referring to the family’s fundraising, Schofield told Cameron, who had joined them on the couch: “We will put all the details on the website and hope one day someone gets to the bottom of this and one day you can do all the things you want to do.”
For more information on Cameron’s condition and to donate to his medical treatment, visit: http://thecameronlindsayappeal.weebly.com/.
Donations can also be made to The PANDAS Foundation NI, which was set up by Cameron’s family, at: https://www.gofundme.com/pandasfoundationni.