Hollyoaks‘ Luke Morgan (Gary Lucy) is reeling after being told he may have a terminal illness, following medical tests after a spate of worrying symptoms.
On Tuesday 3rd December (E4 showing) doctors were concerned by the results of an MRI and wanted to investigate further before making an official diagnosis, but terrified Luke insisted he know what they think might be wrong with him – and the bombshell came he may be suffering from a degenerative brain condition known as frontotemperal dementia…
What is frontotemperal dementia?
As the doctor started to explain to the troubled character, the condition – also known as FTD or Pick’s disease – is a form of dementia caused by damaged nerve cells affecting the front and side of the brain, and can lead to changes in behaviour and language.
Information on the NHS website describes FTD as being quite rare, and can affect people at a much younger age, from around 45, than other kinds of dementia which tend to start around 65. Luke recently celebrated his 38th birthday but the website also says the age at which symptoms can start does vary and can be younger.
The biggest impact of the condition, which is extremely gradual, is the changes to behaviour, personality and communication. This can occur in a number of ways, including selfishness, being erratic and impulsive, apathy and excessive smoking or drinking – which could explain Luke’s emotional few months in which he impulsively proposed to Cindy Cunningham, fell out with son Ollie over him becoming a father at 16, and jumped in a crane while drunk that almost destroyed the village.
In the later stages of the illness, as damage to the brain increases, symptoms can be similar to late stage Alzheimer’s with limited communication, mobility and mental capacity. There is currently no cure for FTD.
Does this mean Luke is being killed off?
Not necessarily. For a start doctors just suspect this might be the underlying reason for his recent symptoms. But life expectancy varies considerably, and research shows people live for an average of eight years after symptoms begin, but again it depends on the patient and it can be more.
If Luke definitely does have FTD, the show may be planning a long-term exploration of the condition that follows Luke as he learns to live with it. There’s no official word either way from Hollyoaks as to Gary Lucy’s future on the show, but the actor recently spoke to Inside Soap about how the storyline pans out in the short term: “Luke is devastated, he’s just shellshocked by the diagnosis.
“Darren is the only person who knows, and Luke makes the decision not to tell anyone else – even his fiancee Cindy as he wants to protect her, as well try to come to terms with what is wrong with him.”
Is this the beginning of a long, hard road for Luke?
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