Illness ends Lake Grace farmer's unbroken crop run

Elle FarcicCountryman

Six years after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, Lake Grace farmer Steve King hasn't sown a crop this season for the first time in 35 years.

It was a heartbreaking realisation for the 53-year-old, who has lived and worked on a big grain farm all of his life.

Motor neurone disease is a degenerative illness that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, making it difficult for sufferers to talk, swallow and breathe.

Mr King first noticed symptoms of the disease in 2007 when he started to struggle with speech and his words began to sound slurred.

He is now sharing his story to raise awareness of the incurable illness ahead of MND Global Awareness Day tomorrow.

After he was diagnosed with MND, Mr King had to give up his agricultural equipment sales job as well as his road train and pilot's licences.

He is now unable to talk and is confined to a wheelchair, making him completely dependent on his family, particularly his wife, Marie.

Mr King, typing on an iPad, said he tried to stay focused and positive as much as possible so he could survive his daily life.

"My body is severely affected, but my mind is still healthy and active," he said. "The worst part about MND is that the mind will kill you before the disease does unless you seek help early on."

Mr King has undergone many treatments over the years, including stem cell therapy in Germany, to slow the progress of the illness.

While he receives overwhelming support from the local community and the Motor Neurone Disease Association of WA, he admitted living with the disease was tough.

"My wife is my full-time carer and it breaks my heart to see her go through this, because I eat very little and can't drink at all," he said.

"We can't even have a cuppa together, let alone go out for dinner.

"I also have three beautiful grandchildren but I can't really do what most granddads do."

The Motor Neurone Disease Association of WA is a not-for-profit group which has been providing support and equipment for people living with MND for the past 30 years. The organisation will host a lunch at Carilley Estate Vineyard in Perth tomorrow to celebrate MND Global Awareness Day.

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