Daytime TV legend Susan Lucci is opening up for the first time about her family's secret heartbreak.
The Emmy winner's 7-year-old grandson, Brendan, suffers from cerebral palsy. Susan's daughter, Liza Huber, felt something was wrong after giving birth to him nine weeks early, but her initial fears subsided due to the joy of being able to bring him home.
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"We were in the NICU for six weeks," Liza explained. "It was a long road. So when he came home, we could feel his body was a little tight, and it was a little cause for concern, but I just said, 'Everything's fine. He's alive!'"
Then in 2010 came the official diagnosis.
"When he was 10 months old and he couldn't sit up on his own, I had to start kind of thinking about it," Liza said. "We started talking to the doctors. At 19 months he couldn't stand up. There was just no being in denial anymore."
Brendan's crisis came when Susan was competing on Dancing With the Stars, but she never shared with the world just how the neurological disorder was affecting her grandson, who has physical therapy every day and leg braces to help him walk.
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"What I have watched is tremendous perseverance in Brendan," Susan said. "OK, maybe he couldn't go on the trampoline as easily as his brothers and his sister but he whips his braces off and he climbs up there and he's bouncing around on that trampoline just like they are."
Liza has four children (Brendan, Royce, 8; Hayden, 4; and Mason, 2) of which Brendan is the second oldest.
Like her mother, Liza is also a former soap actress, but gave up her career to care for Brendan.
"Liza has given Brendan a mantra really," Susan said. "She would say to him, holding him by his arms and saying, my legs are tight. 'So what?' She's raising a full total human being. He's such a wonderful boy."
Today, the first grader is a Cub Scout and baseball pitcher.
On Wednesday night, Susan and Liza attended the Arthur Ashe Institute for urban health gala in New York, as they are both dedicated to improving the lives of all children.