MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. It can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe unaided. There is no cure.
Shauna’s grandfather, Drew Duncan, was diagnosed with MND on 27 November 2020 and tragically passed away five days later, at the age of 70.
Now, Shauna (20), who is studying to become an English teacher, is taking on the Virtual Kiltwalk, between 23– 25 April, to raise funds for charity MND Scotland.
Joined by her aunt and Drew’s daughter, Nicola, and her best friend Aileen, the women are aiming to walk 50 miles over the three days in memory of Shauna’s ‘Bampa’.
Shauna said, “We are not sure how long my Bampa had MND for. It was very difficult for us to watch his deterioration before his diagnosis and when he was given the diagnosis, it explained the rapid decline he was experiencing.
“He went from being admitted to hospital in August 2020 for tests and being able to walk at this time with an aid, to not even having the strength to pull himself up in November.
“We were aware of MND before it affected our family, however until my Bampa had it we were never affected by it personally. We didn’t quite grasp the extent to which it affects the person and the family around them. It is horrible to watch someone you love so dearly deteriorate rapidly every day and you know there is nothing you can do to help them.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to utilise any help or assistance from MND Scotland as he passed away so quickly after the diagnosis. He had advanced swallowing issues which resulted in most foods and liquids going into his chest rather than his stomach. He had been placed on a minced and moist diet but no matter what he ate or drank he seemed to choke. He was too weak and frail to have a peg inserted, so they tried a nasal gastric tube, but it was situated in the wrong place and had to be removed. By this time, he already had aspiration pneumonia and he couldn’t fight it any longer.
“My Bampa was admitted to hospital the day after his diagnosis and never returned home. Losing him to such a horrible illness has been devastating as we feel he has been taken from us far too quickly.”
After this devastating loss, Shauna now wants to take on the challenge of walking 50 miles at this year’s Virtual Kiltwalk, to raise funds so other families get the support they need when living with MND.
She said, “I wanted to take part in this event to raise funds and awareness of MND because I think the devastation it causes to the people suffering from it and their families is awful. I don’t think it is a common disease, so it is possible that lots of people haven’t heard of it and don’t know what it is or realise how badly it affects people.
“We will be walking different routes in our local area each day to achieve our 50 miles, and plan to go on three or four shorter walks each day to reach our target by the end of the weekend.
“With the money I raise I would like to see this disease being more commonly spoken about so more people are aware of it. I would like to see families having access to necessary equipment to make the lives of their loved ones who suffer from MND as manageable as possible. It would also be good to know that some of the funds raised would help to provide families with the correct emotional and mental support through the difficult times that they will undoubtedly face.
“My Bampa was my whole world and so much more. I like to think that he would be proud of us for raising money in his memory and for a charity which is now so close to our hearts and we intend on continuing to help in the future.”
Iain McWhirter, from MND Scotland, said “Thanks to supporters like Shauna, Nicola and Aileen, who are taking part in this year’s Virtual Kiltwalk for MND Scotland, we are able to continue our fight to end MND.
“We know this past year has been extremely difficult for everyone, and we cannot thank our fundraisers enough for going above and beyond to raise funds while all events have turned virtual. Every step you are taking, is bringing us closer to finding a cure for MND and ensuring that no one has to go through MND alone.”
Iain McWhirter | MND Scotland