Before being diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged just 29, Gemma enjoyed an active life. She’d run a marathon, regularly lifted weights at the gym and could even figure skate.
After finishing her studies, Gemma secured a job as an environmental consultant and achieved a career high when she became chartered in 2016. She was aiming to start a Master’s and was also planning for the future with Joe, her boyfriend of three years.
"My family, partner, friends, friends of friends, work colleagues and even strangers have been amazing and supportive - that’s what overwhelms me the most and I can’t thank them all enough.”
Gemma first noticed something was wrong when she started to slur her words. People even thought she was drunk. Then she noticed her leg wasn’t working properly; as she began to trip and felt as if her foot was dropping to the ground as she walked.
After many tests, she was eventually given the devastating diagnosis of MND in June 2016. At that point, the only thing Gemma knew about MND was through the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Living with MND
Her family and good friends have been supporting her every day since then. With the help of Joe, who is employed in the same building, Gemma continues to work but has had to change her goals. She’s ruled out further professional studies and is focusing on spending time with those close to her.
Gemma and Joe were planning to buy their first house together in Cambridgeshire, but now will be moving back up north to be close to her parents.
Gemma’s also thrown herself into raising funds and awareness. She knows her condition is progressing and that there’s no cure, but she still lives every day to the full, enjoying holidays and planning her wedding.
Gemma dreamed of climbing the career ladder as an environmental consultant and was planning to do an MBA. However, after experiencing slurred speech and difficulty walking, she was diagnosed with MND aged just 29. Gemma continues to work, with support from her employer, fiancé and family. She has also been fundraising for the MND Association and Sheffield Institute of Translation Neuroscience (SITraN).
Dave had taken part in more than 30 marathons (often in fancy dress) when he received the devastating diagnosis of MND. But Dave hasn’t let it hold him back and with his “always look on the bright side of life” philosophy, the 63-year-old ran a further two marathons and proposed to his now-wife Paula.
Viv’s husband Tony was working in a local hospice in 2011 when he began experiencing problems with his grip. He thought it might be MND but it took until 2013 for a diagnosis. At the same time, Tony found out he was going to be a granddad for the first time as both his daughters became pregnant. But tragically, Tony died before the baby boys were born in 2016.