WITH a smile on her face and eyes full of life, Annelene Strydom’s world was shaken when she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2017. This rare disease has changed her life, although at first she did not allow her circumstances to keep her locked up in her room.Juggling a career with the demands that go with being a mother of two, she felt lucky and happy. She never considered that her expectations of watching her children grow up, graduate and wed, would be anything but plain sailing.Now, the 43-year-old mother, who can only communicate by controlling a special computer with her eyes, said the prospect of being ‘locked’ in her body is more terrifying than the illness itself.Since being diagnosed with the life-threatening illness, she spends her days bedridden at Cheshire Homes in Summerstrand with nurses having to care for her daily.MND is a life-shortening disease that affects the motor neurones — the nerve cells that control voluntary movement of muscles. It progresses differently in each patient depending on the type of MND. This was the same disease that the late Springbok rugby player, Joost van der Westhuizen, had and it cannot be cured.Strydom was diagnosed with MND after losing all sensation and ability in her left arm. Her speech became worse and after a while, she had to make use of a wheelchair.She said, “My body was rapidly unravelling. I started feeling a weakness in my hands – I had problems grasping things sometimes. “I also had to concentrate on forming my words. Later on, my body slowly stopped working and I became locked inside it. “The whole shift was so overwhelming.”However, her life was changed – in a manner of speaking – by a nifty computer with a clever voice synthesiser which allows her to ‘talk’ to people. Surrounded by pictures of her loving family, Strydom’s mother, Martie Strydom, said that the illness creeps up like a thief in the night.“It was her children and friends who mostly supported her during this time. “We tried to make her as comfortable as possible. However, I cannot give her the care that she needs, and decided that it would be best if she goes to Cheshire,” Martie said.Struggling financially to maintain all costs, Martie have tried to help where possible. However, as a pensioner, she cannot support Annelene financially.Martie added, “The funds we saved up for Annelene staying at Cheshire are slowly running out. “We have exhausted all our other options and we want her last moments with us to be comfortable. Annelene has been such a joy in our lives and even though we know she won’t be able to be with us for a very long time, we cherish every moment with her.”To assist with donations, please contact Martie on 072 3085 319.