A diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND) has not stopped Warren Bradley from living life to the fullest.
Formerly fig grower from Orange, Mr Bradley said he tries not to think about what the future will bring.
“MND is not a great thing to be diagnosed with that is for sure, but I don’t let it stop me doing things,” Mr Bradley said.
“The hardest thing I have to deal with is when people see my wheelchair and automatically think I am dumb and stupid, but I can tell you that is not the case.
“My brain is still going strong even as my muscles and neurons give up on me, and it really annoys me that people take me on face value rather than actually talking to me.”
Mr Bradley said when he finally got confirmation of his diagnosis it was as if everything came together.
“When I was officially diagnosed over two and a half years ago, the doctors said I had had MND for two years before that, but I thought I had just been clumsy,” he said.
“I just thought I was getting old. I kept falling over and knocking myself around. I fell so often that I was in and out of hospital a lot and one time, I even fell into a fire and had to roll out as I couldn’t get out.
“When I was finally admitted for a longer stay I kept having doctors come and assess me and eventually I just told them to spit it out. And just like that, I had a diagnosis for MND.
“In the beginning I was pretty green about the whole thing and I didn’t understand its significance at first, but since I was diagnosed it has been a long journey.”
He said there are a number of misconceptions about MND but it is a disease that affects people in different ways.
“MND is different for everyone, in some people it kills them in six months and for others it can be years.
“If you cut me down the middle my left side is pretty bad, but I could punch and kick you with my right hand and leg. Similarly, I knew someone with MND who would run a marathon but couldn’t talk as his vocal chords had gone.
“I don’t let what might or will come stop me living everyday as it comes. It can be hard knowing that your muscles will seize up and slowly my legs and arms will stop working and then I won’t be able to swallow and eventually I will stop breathing. But I can’t focus on that.”
Mr Bradley said with no cure for MND, events like the Walk to d’Feet MND is important to get behind.
“Hell yeah, I think people should come along and donate to help scientists find a cure for MND. I’ll be there in my wheelchair and if I can do it anyone can.
“I’m fighting the disease everyday, I still drive and live at home but I can no longer lift my hands above my shoulders.
“Finding a cure for MND will help so many people and not just those with MND, but their families and friends as well.”
The Walk to d’Feet MND is in Port Macquarie on September 16 from Westport Park to Town Beach and back. The walk is approximately 5.5km and is wheelchair, stroller and dogs on lead friendly.
Registration fees start from $8 for children to $40 for adult registrations on the day.
To register for the walk before the day or for more information head to the MND NSW website.