I’m a positive person and intend to stay positive

By Brendan Grehan

“I’m a positive person. I intend to stay positive. That is how I deal with it.”

Just four months ago, Valerie O’Carroll (57) from Clondalkin was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Sponsored Silence Valerie 17 compressor

Valerie O’Carroll intends to stay positive after her recent devastating diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease

Speaking of her recent diagnosis , Valerie said: “It has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’m quite healthy at the moment.

I am really hoping to say that way. I was devastated, I thought I was going to die within months or a year. I kept thinking of my kids and would they cope without me.”

In 2018, Ms O’Carroll’s husband, Kieran, noticed that his wife’s speech was slowing down.

She said: “Kieran was nagging me to go to the doctor. In November 2018, I went to see a GP and I was diagnosed with a mini-stroke. They sent me to A & E. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me.”

She was then referred to a throat specialist, then a speech and language therapist before being diagnosed by Professor Orla Hardiman who specialises in MND.

“It was a shock for me and for the whole family. I knew nothing about MND. Funnily enough I had done the ‘ice-bucket challenge’ a few years ago in aid of MND research.”

The mother of three, who also has five grandchildren, is determined that MND will not get the better of her. She has continued to work in her job in a family resource centre.

She is on medication for the condition and hopes to take part in a trial of a new MND drug in February.

She said: “It is tough and I’m not going to say that everything is grand. Working in my job gives me something to keep my mind off thinking about the disease. It is a very positive workplace and my colleagues have been great in supporting me.

I’m still working and driving, and I’m surrounded by very positive people in my job. I’m a very positive person and I intend to stay that way.”

On giving advice to others, Valerie says: “My advice to anyone who was diagnosed recently is to keep positive, keep doing what you’ve always done for as long as you can. I truly believe there is a cure out there for this disease and together we’ll find it.”

Later this year, she plans to walk part of the Camino De Santiago in Spain with members of her family and friends in aid of MND.

Many who have MND lose their voice and in February the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association (IMNDA) is asking people to stay silent for 30 minutes so one can experience what it would be like to lose their voice.

Imagine one hour, imagine one day, imagine one week without your voice. The IMNDA wants you to give up your voice so you can experience what it is like for someone with MND.

All you have to do is pick a day and duration for your silence. Then maybe think if you had no voice for a day how would you communicate?

To get involved in the Sponsored Silence all you have to do is email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and they will send you out your Silence Pack.

Spread awareness by sharing your sponsored silence on social media by using #Voice4MND.

Nominate friends and families to join you – get your school or work colleagues to take part.

You can also donate to the campaign by texting MND to 50300 to donate €2 (100 per cent of text donations goes to IMNDA across most network providers).

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