Plymouth soldier vows to fight his Motor Neurone Disease by raising money
AN ARMY sergeant who has been given just a few years to live after being diagnosed with an incurable disease has said he will "fight" it every step of the way.
Thirty-three-year-old Gary Durban, a father of two, was diagnosed with the debilitating muscle-wasting condition Motor Neurone Disease (MND) last month. He was told he would only live for another three to five years.
"The hardest part is knowing I'm not going to be there for my children, my wife, my family. That's the hardest part of it all," said Gary, who is in the Royal Logistics Corp.
But the determined soldier has said he is going to fight the disease and has organised a charity bike ride to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
He said: "I'm not going to sit in the corner rocking. I'm going to fight it for as long as I can – that's my main aim. I always try to look on the bright side of life.
"Ever since I was young I've heard and known about cancer, strokes and heart attacks but MND was something new to me which tells me there just isn't enough awareness of it out there. That's why I'm doing this charity cycle.
"I do hope that a cure will come in my lifetime, sometimes my wife Amanda and I read stories about new research going on in America and take hope from it.
"But even if the cure doesn't come in time for me it would be nice to know that the money I raised through this charity event will be going towards finding that cure to help others in the future."
Gary, father to seven-year-old Charlotte and four-year-old Sam, said he first noticed something was wrong last year when his left thumb starting twitching, which was followed by weakness in his arms.
"By last September the weakness and twitching in my thumb was constant so I thought I should get checked out. I was sent for blood tests, lumbar punctures and scans.
"And then on January 2 I was given the bad news. Our lives changed from that point.Listening to the doctor explain what would happen to me over the next few years was very hard to hear."
Motor neurone disease is a rare condition that progressively damages the nervous system, causing the muscles to waste away.
As the condition progresses, people with MND will find walking, speaking, breathing and swallowing increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible, to do.
Gary was born in Plymouth and spent most of his life in the city but recently had to relocate to Salisbury with his job. He is now looking to return to his home town to be closer to his family.
Having served in the Balkans, Kosovo, Cyprus, Afghanistan and Iraq, Gary said he is finding losing his strength very difficult.
"As someone in the Army losing my strength is very difficult for me. But I'm learning to deal with it by concentrating on the parts of my body, like my legs, which are still fine. My family know that I'll have my bad days but that's to be expected. My fear isn't for myself though. I'll often sit and watch Amanda and the children, looking at them knowing I've got to leave them – that's my biggest fear. I have no fear for myself, it's fear for my loved ones. I've just got to battle on."
Gary's charity coast-to-coast cycle takes place next month. With six other riders, including a mixture of family, friends and colleagues, Gary will leave Ilfracombe on March 29 and hopes to arrive on Plymouth Hoe the following day.
To sponsor Gary and raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association visit www.justgiving.com/Gary-Durban1.
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