A DIAGNOSIS of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) can take away all hope, according to Warrnambool woman Sue Sheehan.
Ms Sheehan said her childhood friend's recent diagnosis with the incurable disease was "a death sentence" a shock which has prompted her to do what she can to raise awareness about MND, which affects 400 more Australians every year.
The cause is unknown and there is no cure.
According to the MND Australia website, MND is the name given to a group of diseases where the nerve cells, or neurones, controlling the muscles that allow people to move around, speak, swallow and breathe fail to work normally.
Where there are no nerves to activate them the muscles gradually weaken and waste.
The patterns of weakness and rate of progression varies from person to person and while some people can live a long time, the average life expectancy is two to three years from diagnosis.
Ms Sheehan's friend Julie Zoch, 55, was diagnosed in October last year. Ms Sheehan grew up with Ms Zoch in Kilmore and said she couldn't imagine her life without her.
"One of the things that has hit home is that there is no hope, but she doesn't look at it that way," Ms Sheehan said.
"For me, if you're diagnosed with breast cancer there is treatment, there is some hope.
"With this you can waste away but the brain still functions.
"We grew up together as children. Julie and her sisters became my sisters."
Ms Sheehan said when she asked Ms Zoch what could be done she said there just needed to be more awareness.
So far she and her daughter CaseyLee Sheehan have raised $434 and their target is $5000 for MND Australia. "I just can't imagine my life when that constant isn't there," she said.
"She's a hard-working, honest and simple woman whose ambition has been to look after her children.
"This is a death sentence.We've grown up and gone different paths but the constant has been my friend.
"We can go a year or two without speaking and then pick up like it was yesterday.
"She has said you can make this journey as simple or as hard as you want, and she's chosen to make it simple. I don't remember my life without Julie in it.
"My aim is simply to raise awareness for my friend."
To donate to MND Australia there is a jar at the Corrections Centre in Warrnambool, behind the Magistrates Court, or visit http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/ZochS