In the early hours of Friday morning the 20th December 2013, 59 year old Irish University lecturer and right to die advocate Marie Flemming passed away at her home by the side of her loving family. Marie had been suffering from the final stages of Multiple Sclerosis.  She is now finally at peace after suffering greatly at the hands of MS - a terrible neurological condition, that would appear to be increasing in regularity across the world, especially in Ireland.

Earlier this year, Marie and her partner Tom Curran took on the Irish justice system as she was in so much pain and distress, she wanted her partner to be in a position to assist her to pass gracefully, However the courts ruled against this, and Marie had to suffer intensely for the remainder of the year.  For months there was lots of media attention, the papers were full of so called experts both for and against assisted suicide.  The television ran debates on the issue and it seemed at times that everyone had an opinion on this case and the whole issue of assisted suicide.  The facts of the matter today is that now it doesn't really matter in relation to Marie and her family.  MS has won the day and tonight Marie is in a much better place  - at peace.  I just hope that now her children Corrinna and Simon, stepson David, her two brothers, her sister, grandchildren and her partner Tom, get the space they deserve to grieve and moreso rejoice at Maries Life.

I myself have been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for over 7 years now and I have to say that I was watching Marie' case with real interest wondering what I would do if my own condition developed to such a tragic state.  I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Marie and her family to go through the judicial system with the hope only to gain permission to die gracefully.  What it does do for me now is put life into perspective and although my mind continues to challenge me with all sorts of connotations around a life fighting MS, I plan to try and enjoy my health and be more grateful for my life's experiences to date, and get excited about the goals and challenges ahead.

Last month I was keynote speaker at an annual Multiple Sclerosis conference in Italy.   I was the only MS patient who was invited to speak from Europe and my audience was over 500 neurologists, medics and researchers.  The one common denominator in the room was that we all wanted a CURE for MS and the sooner the better.  The experience was incredible and I can tell you that some very well respected neuros told me they expect to have a CURE for MS in the next 10/15 years.  This is incredible and having spent some time with these guys I have no reason to doubt them.

Tonight I have just finished a book written by one of Ireland 's most inspirational sports men Mr Jim Stynes.  The book is written in real time as Jim was fighting a very rapid form of Cancer.  The book moved me and also helped me in terms of my mind-set and absolute drive to keep moving forward.  He touched on something that I regularly speak about when I am talking to people about life and facing challenges - HOPE.   He says ;

"The element of hope has to be the starting point of your journey.  There is life after diagnosis, and it is crucial you live it with hope.  It will improve your experience of life fighting the illness. You are more likely to find happiness and less likely to feel anxious.  It will improve your chances of recovery".  He then went on to quote the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney;

"Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained".

As we approach Christmas, I am all too aware of the challenges facing people today.  I have spent the last few years speaking to hundreds of people about there financial issues, that often lead to other challenges.

So on reflection, and for me the message this Christmas has to be one of hope - no matter how desperate your own challenge appears to be, never lose hope.

Have a happy peaceful Christmas all and thanks to everyone who has supported me through 2013, in particular my family.


#Attitude Is Everything