Incredible Lucy Lintott, 22, from Garmauth, Moray, explains why she's making the most of every moment...
Sitting at the dinner table, I went to pick up my fork but it felt weirdly heavy. And when I went to get a glass of water, I tripped over my feet and fell across the floor.
‘You’re clumsy lately,’ my mum Lydia, 53, said.
‘You know what I’m like!’ I said, laughing.
But deep down, I was worried. I’d started to notice a range of unexplained symptoms, from losing strength in my left hand to finding it difficult to balance.
Only 19, I was due to fly to America in just a few weeks for summer camp. It was a lifelong dream – I didn’t want being ill to get in the way. So I kept my worries to myself.
I had an incredible experience, but my symptoms began to get worse while I was away. My muscles would spasm randomly and I started to fall over, even when standing still on flat ground. I also needed urgent trips to the loo and my walk turned into more of a stumble.
So, back home in September 2013, I plucked up the courage to visit my GP.
‘Please tell me I’m worrying about nothing,’ I said to him.
‘We need to send you for a few tests with a neurologist,’ he replied.
Not exactly the reassurance me and my parents were hoping for.
A few weeks later, I saw experts at Southern General Hospital, who examined me carefully. I underwent a huge range of tests, from a lumbar puncture to an MRI scan.
Finally, the results came in. As I sat down with the doctors and my dad, Robert, 53, to hear the news, I felt quite relaxed. All I wanted was to know what was wrong. Then I could start getting better. But what we heard next made me realise that was never going to happen.
‘It’s motor neurone disease,’ the consultant said.
He explained it’s a progressive, muscle-wasting condition, which can make things like walking and speaking difficult – eventually impossible.
There was no cure and it was severely life-shortening in most patients. I sat there, stunned, as Dad burst into tears.
‘But she’s only 19!’ he sobbed.
As the doctors went on to talk about what my diagnosis meant, I zoned out. Too overwhelmed to take any of it in. I remember leaving the hospital in a daze and getting into a taxi. I stared out of the window, dumbstruck.
I spent the rest of the day researching Motor Neurone Disease online before heading back into hospital with Mum, Dad, my sister Laura, 23, and brother Ross, 24, the next day.
‘Do you have any questions?’ the doctor said.
‘Will I be able to have children?’ I asked.
‘I don’t think so,’ he replied.
And when he went on to break the news that I probably only had three years to live and would likely end up totally paralysed, I realised why.
I had so many aspirations – as well as becoming a mum one day, I wanted to travel the world and go to college – and now I was staring death in the face.
I went home and spent a lot of time alone, where I could cry without upsetting anyone else.
But as I grieved for the life I wouldn’t get to live, I came to realise that I wasn’t dead yet. I still had time to make my dreams come true.
So I decided to write a bucket list of things I wanted to do before my time is up.
‘We’ll do what we can to support you,’ my family promised.
I wrote down everything from flying in a helicopter and getting a tattoo, which I’ve now done, to swimming with sharks and passing my driving test, which I’ve yet to tick off.
I also set myself the huge goal of raising £100,000 for MND Scotland.
‘It might be too late for me, but I want to help others,’ I decided.
I did a 65-mile sponsored walk with friends and we organised events like a charity auction.
Then, in March this year, I reached my fundraising goal!
‘We’re so proud of you,’ Dad said. And soon after, he got the fundraising bug, too. He’s hiking to Machu Picchu, Peru, next September, aiming for £10,000.
Before launching his fundraiser, he wrote me a heartfelt letter.
I thank my lucky stars to have such a beautiful, fearless and determined daughter…
It meant everything to me.
In November, it’ll be three years since I was diagnosed – a milestone the doctors said I wouldn’t see.
I need a wheelchair when out and about, and my speech is a little mumbled, but I’ll keep fighting and fundraising.
But whatever I manage to accomplish, one of my biggest achievements will always be that I’ve made Mum and Dad proud.