Jim (78), a motorbike enthusiast, has lived a full life, travelling across the world racing in competitions, and has continued to keep a positive outlook since his diagnosis.
He said, “I kept myself very fit by playing squash, running, mountain biking and also enjoyed going out on my Jet Ski. But my passion is motorbikes. I started racing when I was 20 and ran the Peterhead Motor Cycle Club with my dad. I moved to England when I was 22, where I raced for many years before travelling to the continent and all over the world racing my motorbikes.
“I married Di in 1976 and moved to Stonehaven, and my last race abroad was the following year. I continued to compete in Scotland, and enjoyed racing with my Grandsons Liam, Ashley and Aidan, until I hung up my leathers at the age of 69.”
Enjoying retirement and spending time with his family, Jim first started to notice something was wrong in December 2017.
Jim’s wife, Di (73), who works as a Post Office Clerk, said “He was really struggling to use his arm and his muscles were getting weaker. We put it down to the ageing process and riding his motocross bikes for most of his life. He initially went to orthopaedics as he thought he had a bad shoulder, but physio didn’t help. He then had to have a small operation to remove a rodent ulcer from his ear. It was the plastic surgeon who thought there might be something else going on and referred him immediately to neurology in July 2019.
“He attended his neurology appointment in September 2019 and this is when we received the news that he had MND. I was devastated when we found out, especially knowing it was terminal. He was always so strong and fit.”
Elaine (48), a Disability Analyst from Cove, said “I think probably at the back of my mind I knew but didn’t want to believe it. I have a nursing background, so I suppose I did think it could be MND. My husband had a close friend who battled MND some years back, so I knew quite a lot about it, however I was not aware of the different symptoms and the way it affects everyone differently.”
Since 2017, life has changed for Jim and his family; dealing with the challenges MND brings and coming to terms with the diagnosis.
Di said, “At the moment Jim can still get around, as it is his top half that is pretty weak, so we are coping ok. He is very chirpy and upbeat which makes life easier, but I must admit as he gets weaker, I really don’t know how I will cope. The girls and I are very close which is a comfort and we are just taking one day at a time.”
Sandra (42), a Property Assistant from Inverbervie, said “I think it has brought us all a lot closer. We have always been a close family, but I pop in to see Dad and Mum as much as I can now, even if it is just for a quick 10-minute visit, nearly every day.
“Life has changed mostly for my mum as she is there 24/7, and I know she struggles with watching him become so weak. She is doing an amazing job looking after him, and my sister and I help as much as we can.
“It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to watch in my life - my dad is my hero and watching him fade away and not being able to do anything is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine my life without him, he has been such a huge part of our lives. The only blessing is that he is so positive about things which makes the time we spend with him much happier.”
Elaine added, “Dad takes everything in his stride. Watching him listening to the music he really enjoys and tapping his foot makes me quite upset, but he is so happy I have to smile. We can still have a laugh and a joke with him, which is great.”
Following the shock of Jim’s diagnosis, Di, Elaine and Sandra are now keen to do something to fight back, and are gearing up to walk 15 miles at the Aberdeen Kiltwalk on Sunday 7th June, to raise funds for MND Scotland.
Elaine said, “Sandra and Mum do a lot of walking already and are looking forward to it, they don’t see a problem in managing the walk. I’m feeling a little nervous, as I don’t really do any regular exercise at the moment, however I’m planning to start training when the lighter nights come in. I really want to complete the 15 miles as everyone that has sponsored us has been so generous, and I don’t want to let any of them down.”
Raising an incredible £2,500 so far, Sandra said, “We all hope the funds raised will help to find a cure and help others with this disease be able to get the equipment and support that they require.”
Jim added, “I still remain very positive with life even with MND. I have no regrets, have had a very positive life and done everything I have wanted to do. I have never been lonely, and I don’t know the meaning of lonely.
"I am very proud of my girls for doing the Kiltwalk to raise funds for MND Scotland, and although it is too late for me, I do hope that one day there will be a cure for this disease.”
Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland head of fundraising, said “I’d like to thank the Stuart family for sharing their experience of MND and for already raising an incredible £2,500 for MND Scotland. With support like this we are able to continue providing vital financial, emotional and practical support to families when they need it the most, and fund the research which is taking us a step closer to a cure.
“Each year we have an army of fundraisers taking part in the Kiltwalk events across Scotland. They are always fun, high energy, inspirational events, bringing people together in the fightback against MND.
“With the options of walking between 5 and 25 miles, or using a wheelchair, there is something for everyone. To join Team MND and sign up to your local Kiltwalk in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee or Edinburgh visit www.mndscotland.org.uk/kiltwalk.”
You can also support the Stuart family by donating online at: aberdeenkiltwalk2020.everydayhero.com/uk/elaine-5.
25 September 2020
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