A DYING mum-of-two with motor neurone disease has made the agonising decision to say goodbye to her children and move away to live out her "final chapter."
Jennifer Bell, 29, was given just months to live by doctors when she was given the "gut-wrenching" diagnosis last year.
And now the single mum – who was studying to become a nurse – has decided to say goodbye to her two daughters Georgia, nine, and Kacey, one, for good to shield them from "as much heartache as possible".
Jennifer, of Milngavie, near Glasgow, told the Daily Record: "Life for me is quality over quantity now.
"I’ve organised everything – memory boxes, wedding presents, 18th and 21st birthday presents, gifts for my first grandchildren and even sorted my funeral arrangements to protect my family.
"I want to keep them away from as much heartache as possible."
Life for me is quality over quantity now
Jennifer's nightmare begun when she was seven months pregnant and she began experiencing slurred speech.
At first, she brushed off her symptoms and put it down to the stress of being a pregnant mum.
Even when she eventually went to her GP, Jennifer was told it was down to hormones following pregnancy and to return in eight weeks.
However, on March 26, 2019, Jennifer's worst fears became a reality – she had MND and had just nine months to live.
The incurable disease affects the brain and leads to muscle wasting and death.
Jennifer vowed to fight the condition from the beginning – clinging on to her life to ensure she graduated from university and was around to celebrate Kacey's first birthday.
However, her condition has dramatically deteriorated and she is now unable to speak, swallow water or eat food without choking.
Keen to protect the memory her children will have of her, Jennifer has seen her children for the last time and moved into a Marie Curie Hospice in Glasgow where she will be looked after.
Jennifer admitted her heartbreaking decision had been partly fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic which has left her feeling exhausted and alone.
In an open letter to those who have followed her journey, Jennifer announced her decision to begin her "final chapter" at the hospice.
She said: “After a long 24 months of fighting MND I have today began my final chapter in Marie Curie.
“I don’t really have the words apart from I am broken leaving my little girls and family.
I am broken leaving my little girls and family
“Thank you to everyone who has been there for me. Thank you to my amazing friends who have consistently been there for me.
"Thank you to everyone whose reached out to me, whose raised money for my daughters, and thank you to everyone who has helped, donated and raised awareness for motor neurone disease.
“I said from the very beginning I’ll decide when I’ve had enough, not MND.
"I am so tired. Tired of fighting, I’ve done my best and gave my all. But it’s time to protect my girls and they deserve to remember mum not MND.
“Thank you to everyone I’ve met throughout my journey, to the people who stood by me through everything not just this disease but everything in my personal life and for everyone who never doubted me.
"The kindness and love my family, me and my girls have been shown, shows that there is still good in this world.
“My families' and friends hearts are breaking, mine is shattered leaving behind my two little girls, but I know what I’ve left behind for them will show how much I loved them and they’ll carry that in their hearts forever.
“MND is the cruelest disease and everyone has an acceptance of what quality of life is for them. Mine has been taken from me.
My families' and friends hearts are breaking, mine is shattered
“I don’t know where I am going but I know there will be people waiting for me.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at all scared because I’m human and at 29 it is scary.
“I said from the day I was diagnosed I’ll know when I’m ready and that time has come. Me and my girls have made more memories in a year than some will make in a life time. For that I am blessed.
“Motor neurone disease is so underfunded and if I could ask anyone to pick a charity to give people diagnosed a chance, at least a glimmer of hope, then please donate to MND Scotland.
What is motor neurone disease (MND)?
Motor neurone disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time.
There's no cure for MND, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person's daily life. Some people live with the condition for many years.
MND can significantly shorten life expectancy and, unfortunately, eventually leads to death.
Symptoms of motor neurone disease happen gradually and may not be obvious at first.
Early symptoms can include:
- Weakness in your ankle or leg – you might trip, or find it harder to climb stairs
- Slurred speech, which may develop into difficulty swallowing some foods
- A weak grip – you might drop things, or find it hard to open jars or do up buttons
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Weight loss – your arms or leg muscles may have become thinner over time
- Difficulty stopping yourself from crying or laughing in inappropriate situations
Motor neurone disease is an uncommon condition that mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages.
It's caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones.
These cells gradually stop working over time. It's not known why this happens.
"Say a wee prayer for my girls, my dad, mum, and the rest of my family and friends and send them the strength to get through this.
"I’m not doing goodbyes. I’ll see you in a while."
Jennifer is sharing her devastating story in a desperate bid to raise much-needed awareness for MND.
"I’m trying to spread awareness about my story so that other children won’t be left without a mum because of this horrible disease," she said.
"There needs to be more education on MND.
"I hope there will be more time and money put into research so we can move forward to one day find a cure.
"There is so much information about cancer yet people don’t know much about MND or that there is no cure.
"Being diagnosed teaches you to be strong and cherish every day with the people who truly love you."
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