Six months after his passing, the parents of late actor Cameron Boyce are opening up about their pain — and sharing crucial medical information in hopes of preventing more people from suffering the same fate.
Boyce, who starred on Disney Channel's sitcom "Jessie" as well as the "Descendants" films, died at age 20 in July 2019. His death shocked family, friends and fans, and although the tragedy was quickly attributed to epilepsy, questions remained about how, exactly, such a terrible event could have unfolded.
"We definitely didn't know it could be fatal," Boyce's mother, Libby, said of the epilepsy diagnosis he had previously received. He was taking medication to prevent seizures, but the concern was not that the seizure itself could be highly dangerous; rather, doctors worried he could drown or hit his head while experiencing one.
Boyce's parents have since learned that their son died of a condition called SUDEP, or sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, they explained in an interview on "The Doctors."
The leading cause of death in people with uncontrolled seizures, SUDEP is cited when no other cause of death is found during an autopsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. There are preventative measures that can be taken, some of which are outlined on the foundation's website.
As a teenager, Boyce occasionally had seizures "in his sleep and the worst thing that would happen was he would bite his tongue and he would wake up with a headache," his father, Victor, said.
In the aftermath of his death, Boyce's parents created the Cameron Boyce Foundation, which not only advocates for epilepsy awareness but also champions other critical issues he supported during his short life.
While Victor and Libby channel energy into the foundation, they readily admit that the past six months have been a "nightmare."
"I feel as though I'm in a tunnel. The tunnel will always be there. I will never be out of the tunnel. So, if people say, 'You come out the other side' — you do not come out the other side from this kind of a loss, ever," his mother said.