Raising children is never easy, especially if one suffers from a chronic condition. Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do the best they can.
Even if you’re a celebrity, parenting isn’t any easier, as they still hold the expectation to raise their kids to become kind, respectable, and responsible adults. Sometimes there are struggles when their offspring get unruly, but other times the circumstances are out of their control, which in turn can make them feel helpless in caring for their child.
David and Victoria Beckham are no different, especially when they were faced with their son’s devastating medical diagnosis.
But let’s rewind on their story. Before the pair met, David saw Victoria in the music video for the Spice Girls’s 1996 hit song “Say You’ll Be There.” He was instantly smitten.
“That’s the girl for me and I'm going to get her! She's my idea of perfection,” David reportedly said to his former teammate Gary Neville.
David’s future bride had been aware of his existence too, as Victoria had been secretly following his career through various magazines.
"My wife picked me out of a soccer sticker book. And I chose her off the telly. It felt straight away like we'd always been meant to be together," David wrote in his 2003 autobiography.
The Beckhams finally met in 1997 after being introduced at a celebrity soccer match, and the rest is history.
Dubbed “Posh and Becks” by the media, the lovebirds tied the knot on July 3, 1999 and have since welcomed four beautiful children: Brooklyn, 18, Romeo, 15, Cruz, 12, and Harper, 6.
Living the picture perfect life, it would come as a devastating shock when their son, Romeo, was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the world, and affects people of all ages by causing seizures. There are several types of seizures one can suffer from, varying from being brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking.
According to CURE Epilepsy, an estimated 65 million people suffer from epilepsy, with 3.4 million being American.
The neurological disorder can result in physical injuries, including broken bones. Sufferers often have to take medication for the rest of their lives, but even then on rare occasions, it can prove to be fatal. Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is an unexplained complication, where no other cause of death is found. It can occur at any time.
Following the revelation of Romeo’s epilepsy diagnosis, the Beckhams have taken extra precautions to ensure their son’s safety.
In 2006, it was revealed to the public the young Beckham suffered from the neurological disease, when Victoria lashed out at paparazzi for taking flash photography of Romeo - which has the ability to trigger a seizure.
Prior to the announcement, the Beckhams had been seen frequenting hospital, but no one knew why, until one fateful day when the family arrived at Heathrow Airport in Longford, England.
As they were being bombarded with flash photography, Romeo, then four, began having a violent reaction. While Victoria initially tried to shield his eyes from the bright lights as they made their way to their waiting car, the paparazzi only continued to persist.
The situation took an ugly turn when one ruthless photographer pressed his camera to the car’s window and began to take snaps. The flashing lights made Romeo scream out in terror, which forced Victoria to reveal her son’s condition.
Shielding him once more, she yelled: "Leave him alone. He's got epilepsy. All that flashing will start an epileptic fit. You can't do that!"
The photographers were from media outlet Splash News, and once the media outlet’s owner, Kevin Smith, found out about Romeo’s epilepsy diagnosis, he vowed to refrain from taking flash pictures of him.
"No picture is worth putting a child's life in danger. Now that we know Romeo has epilepsy I will not be authorising any of my photographers to take flash pictures of him. I think this is absolutely the right thing to do and I hope other agencies follow suit," Smith said.
Fortunately, Romeo hasn’t let his condition rule his life.
Since Victoria’s 2006 announcement, the paparazzi acknowledged Romeo’s condition, and have done the right thing by ceasing to take his picture with flash photography.
Romeo hasn’t let his epilepsy be the focal point as his life as he’s already accomplished several feats before the end of puberty.
In 2014, he was the star of a Burberry’s first Christmas campaign, and was credited for helping the high-end fashion company boost their sales in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. He even helped make up for failing sales in Hong Kong following the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations.
The following summer, Romeo made headlines when he participated in the children’s race at the London Marathon.
Accompanied by his entire family decked out in “Team Romeo” t-shirts, Romeo completed the three mile race for children aged 11 to 17 in a speedy 18 minutes and 54 seconds.
He was congratulated on social media by Victoria and Brooklyn, who proudly declared his younger brother had raised for raising £6,000 (about $8,500) for UNAIDS and 7 Fund.
He also briefly followed the footsteps of his soccer star father, as he was once a prospect at Arsenal's youth academy. However, he decided to devote his attention to other endeavors, and give up the sport. Luckily, David took the news relatively well.
"The other day Romeo turned around to me and said he didn't want to play football anymore," David told Radio Times. "Part of me was devastated but part of me was relieved too.
He’s since been seen taking a shining to tennis, with champion tennis player Grigor Dimitrov even saying he has “a lot of potential.”
“Romeo, he's a very talented kid. I think he hasn't played tennis for that long, but he sure showed I think a lot of potential,” Dimitrov said.
It’s amazing what children can accomplish when they don’t let their conditions define them!