Greenock Dad Inspired by Fernando Ricksen

After struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis for many years, Marc is now opening up and sharing his story in the hope of helping others.

Greenock Dad Inspired by Fernando Ricksen

Posted : 04/11/2019

29-year-old Marc Fairbairn was left in shock when he was diagnosed with MND at the age of just 18.

Since his diagnosis over 10 years ago Marc has remained private about his illness, however is now taking inspiration from childhood heroes Fernando Ricksen and Tyson Fury, by speaking out.

The Greenock dad of one (Emily, 9) left school at 16 years old, to do an apprenticeship in electronics as a maintenance technician, when almost two years later he started to notice something was amiss.

Marc said, “I went to my GP at the beginning of 2008 after experiencing weakness in my right arm for a couple of months. They sent me for blood tests and nothing came back. It didn't go away and I was back and forth. Then in August that year, I went for a jog with my friend and I just couldn't get going. I thought it was a trapped nerve.

“I made a point of going back to see the doctor and they referred me to a neurologist which took about six weeks. The neurologist saw me and said I'd have to come back up ASAP for a week worth of testing. That's when the alarm bells started ringing. I did all the tests in October and after they were complete I had to wait a month for the results. Then it was confirmed that I had Motor Neurone Disease. It was very hard to take that no matter what I did from there, nothing would improve and my health would only decline.

“A few months after my diagnosis, my boss had no option but to let me go. I understood the decision but it didn't make it any easier to be honest.

“For me, it's been a slow progression since then. The first couple of years my everyday tasks would just take 2, 3, 4 times as long. In 2012, I had to give up driving as my limbs were getting really weak. Walking any further than 30 yards became exhausting so I had to use a wheelchair if I was leaving the house. My speech was slurring and I needed a hand doing almost everything. In 2016, I could no longer feed myself and it's been like this until the present day. I can still swallow, that's the only thing that hasn't been affected too much.

“It can't be easy for my family watching me going through this. My mum has given up everything to be there for me. I'd be very naive to think that MND has affected my life only. It has affected everyone close to me but they have all adapted very well.”

After struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis for many years, Marc is now opening up and sharing his story in the hope of helping others, and to raise awareness of MND.

“Fernando Ricksen was a hero of mine growing up. The way he dealt with his journey has totally inspired me. I felt similarities with having a young daughter myself. The awareness he raised is just fantastic! There are many more MND patients I look up to across the world because of the work they have done. I have decided now is the best time to share my story because I want to help anyone else suffering in silence and raise awareness of MND whilst I still can. In hindsight I should have done it a lot sooner.

“I found it very difficult to accept my illness and all the changes that come with it. It takes away all of your dignity.  I had too much pride and felt a bit embarrassed needing help but I put it to the back of my mind. However, in January 2017 I let everything get on top of me. It destroyed my confidence so much that I didn't want to leave the house and I avoided social situations. Tyson Fury opening up about about his battle with anxiety and depression helped me a lot. I remember him saying that if anyone is suffering go and get help and that's what I did.

“The biggest challenge is not being able to fully express myself anymore. I have to be patient and not get frustrated easily, and others have to be patient with me. I'm very switched on.  Accepting my situation has made life easier. I try to do as much as I can nowadays and life is good again!

“I’ve tried my best to carry on as normal. My daughter gives me so much strength. Emily has always just been aware of my MND, growing up around it. She has told me that she made a wish after blowing out her candles one birthday that my legs would get better. I hope her wish comes true one day but regardless of that I believe I will see many more years of her growing up. Right now she is the best medicine for me. MND Scotland helped me go to Tenerife with Emily in 2018, creating brilliant memories for my family and me.  Spending time with her and getting to the football makes me completely forget about MND.”

To help MND Scotland support families, like Marc’s, and to fund research towards finding a cure go to www.mndscotland.org.uk/donate or to donate £5, text CUREMND to 70660. 

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“My daughter gives me so much strength. Right now she is the best medicine for me.”