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A heartbreaking diagnosis has been given to a 28-year-old mum of two just after she gave birth to her second daughter.
Jennifer Bell, from Milngavie, near Glasgow, was seven months pregnant with her daughter Kacey, now nine months, when a relative noticed that her speech was slurred. After being referred for a neurology appointment which would take too long, her family paid for a private MRI scan at a Glasgow hospital.
She was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given nine months to live. She was told that her diagnosis was not genetic, but was due to "bad luck". The disease affects the nerves and causes the muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste, affecting everyday actions such as walking, talking, eating, drinking and breathing.
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- MND Association (@mndassoc) March 30, 2017
Jennifer, who is single, told the Daily Record that when she was told the news by a nurse, she was "just ill".
"All I could think about was will Kacey even remember me? She's just a baby. And my eight-year-old Georgia won't be able to cope without me."
Jennifer has just graduated from Caledonian University with a BSc in learning disability nursing, saying that she is "proud of [her] achievements". As well as finishing her studies, Jennifer has also ticked off swimming with dolphins and teaching her oldest daughter how to swim.
"I've powered through, no matter how many obstacles I've faced," she says. "I won't get the reward of being a nurse but my girls will look back and see me as a role model."
Her diagnosis has been extremely difficult for her, and she has been put in the impossible situation of trying to explain it to her daughters.
"Sometimes I have to go into the bathroom and put my head in a towel and cry so they can't hear me because I'm so sad I won't see them growing up," she says."But the girls give me strength to keep fighting and I have too much living to do yet.
"It's not fair my girls have to lose their mum so young. When I was young I dreamed of owning a big house and taking nice holidays but now my only dream is that I could have my health and see them grow up.
"Georgia has asked me, 'How long until you get better mum?' and I've had to tell her I'm not going to get better.
A crowdfunding page has been set up on JustGiving to raise money for her two daughters. The page, which has raised nearly £3,000 so far, reads: "My cousin Jennifer Bell who is just 28 years old has recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease.
"She has two young daughters just 7 years old and 6 months old and has been giving up to 18 months. As one of the youngest people in the UK to be diagnosed with this aggressive form all donations would be greatly appreciated.
"All monies raised from this page and on the night will be getting split evenly between her two daughters and put into their trust funds for their 21st Birthday."
You can get support and find out more about motor neurone disease at https://www.mndscotland.org.uk/imagine
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