Taking on a challenge to raise money for MND Association

I wanted to write this post to let you know why I’ve been a little bit quieter than normal over the past 16 months and especially the last few weeks.

Very sadly, my amazing Dad passed away 2 weeks ago at the age of just 68, surrounded by his whole family. I will miss him forever, but I’ll always be incredibly grateful that I had him as my wonderful Dad.

I’ve had to reschedule many of my shoots over the past couple of months, and I want to thank my lovely clients for being so understanding.

I will be back to sharing shoots and news again very soon. Dad was my biggest fan and so supportive of my business. He always texted me to ask me when I was blogging again if I hadn’t blogged for a week or two, so it always kept me on my toes! I know he wanted me to carry on as normal so I look forward to sharing lots of lovely sessions with you over the next few months.

Losing my Dad has really made me realise even more, just how important photos are. I sit staring at photos of my Dad every single day at the moment, and I’m so grateful that I took so many of him over the years, especially him with my Mum and with my boys too.

Dad-justgiving

You can also see this shoot that I did with them in 2011 for their Ruby wedding anniversary.

In this post what I want to talk about is the illness my Dad had to help raise awareness. Many people don’t know much about Motor Neurone Disease. That’s why I want to tell you my Dad’s story. Not to get your sympathy, but hopefully to inspire you to help me to make a difference.

I always thought MND was one of those horrible diseases that happen to other people. I remember doing the ALS bucket challenge in the summer of 2014 and feeling so sorry for those people it affected, but never for one second thinking it would affect my family. Sadly I was wrong.

In Sept 2014 my Dad developed a slightly croaky voice. 17 months later, after many visits to his doctor, he finally got the most feared diagnosis of all, the beast that is MND. The grim prognosis was 1-3 years from onset of symptoms, with no effective treatment available and no cure. The devastating news that nobody wants to hear.

The only positive that I can take from this horrible disease compared to dying suddenly, is that we did some lovely things together as a family over the past 16 months and created some very special memories. We were also able to say everything that we wanted to say to each other, something that I know is a blessing. I’ll always be grateful for that and will treasure those memories forever.

Dad battled the illness with bravery, humour and courage. It eventually robbed him of his voice and ability to eat and drink, and finally his life. He was still working and going to the gym regularly, just weeks before he passed away. He was an inspiration to us all.

I wish at this point I could tell you to check your boobs, or stop drinking, or start exercising more and you’ll avoid getting MND. But the sad fact is that none of these things will make any difference.

Not only is there no treatment or cure, there is also no prevention to MND…it just strikes fit and healthy people with no warning.

Worryingly, MND research is woefully underfunded. It’s unbelievable that in this day and age there is a horrific disease like this, that can randomly hit perfectly healthy and fit individuals, without any effective treatment available. It’s the disease that doctors fear the most, as they know there is nothing they can do to help.

Here are some facts about MND that you may not know:

  • MND can strike anyone of any age with no family history, but it’s most common between the ages of 40-60 years.
  • It’s only genetic in 5% of cases (both of Dad’s parents are still alive in their 90’s).
  • It’s known as the ‘fit person’s disease’ as it often affects people with a very active lifestyle (my Dad played competitive squash for 35 years and ran 5 marathons). No link to any other causes has yet been discovered.
  • Your lifetime risk of getting MND is 1 in 300. Sadly it’s not as rare as we would like to think it is.
  • It’s a rapidly progressive disease and is always fatal. There is no effective treatment and no cure. A third of people die within a year of diagnosis, over 50% within 2 years.

Pretty depressing reading isn’t it?

I’m not just telling you all of this to scare you or turn you into a hypochondriac. I just want to do everything I can to raise awareness of MND and to raise money to help find a cure. It’s sadly too late for my Dad, but I don’t want to see so many more families go through this heartbreak.

Karl and I are taking on a gruelling challenge to raise money for the MND Association. In spring next year, we are walking 100km (62 miles) in 2 days around the whole of the Isle of Wight. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll do anything to get one step closer to finding a cure for this beast of a disease.

So there is something you can do to help…please take a minute to grab your wallet, and sponsor us to help find an effective treatment for MND, and hopefully one day, a cure.

Dad was so happy when I told him we were doing this challenge, so please help us raise as much money as possible in his memory. I want to make him really proud. :-)

Please give whatever you can, and help put a smile on my face at this sad time.

Please find out more and donate here.

Thank you to all of you for your support and understanding.

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