Motor Neurone Disease(MND) and Peter Doohan

Motor Neurone Disease(MND) and Peter Doohan

Peter Doohan, a former professional tennis player, with a career high singles ranking of 43 and 15 in doubles, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease(ALS). Peter suddenly passed away July 21st in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was 56 years old.

What is Motor Neurone Disease?

Motor neurone disease has another name – ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It is more familiarly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The ALS Association definition is as follows: “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Famous People Who Have Contracted MND(ALS)

Some names you may recognize as having MND (ALS) are: Lou Gehrig, Steven Hawking,Paul Cellucci, Jon Stone, Mao Zedong, Lead Billy, Lane Smith, and Don Revie.

Does MND(ALS) Affect You?

Most people reading this blog won’t have contracted ALS. However, reading about others who have, especially if they are well know figures, will affect us in some way.

Imagine, if you will, that you have attained a high level of proficiency in either your occupation, or hobby in life. You have a passion for what you do and identify with it. One day you notice your physical proficiency is not quite what you have come to expect. It progresses over a very short time to not being able to physically manage what you have taken for granted. Small alarms set off.

The next step is to see your doctor – perhaps you have a virus that has to run through your system. The doctor prescribes a series of tests that are administered in the lab. You make an appointment for a week or two later, to have him give you a diagnosis. When you walk in and sit down, the doctor, in his professional, but emotionally removed voice says, “You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. You have 6 months to 3 years to live. Any questions?” You sit there for a minute trying to compute what the doctor has just said.You are numb and no questions come to mind. The doctor dismisses you. He has other patients.


Peter Doohan was a professional tennis player. After his playing career was over he became a well known and respected teaching professional. One day he noticed some changes in his physical ability to do his job. He was diagnosed with MND. The disease took him within months of being diagnosed. My brother died of ALS. This has caused me to examine my life with regard to questions about ‘end of life’. Have you been confronted with questions regarding what would you do in similar circumstances?

About wdkealy

I retired from a career as a tennis professional to move to Portland with my wife to care for my in-laws and my mother in Abbotsford, BC. Not wanting to retire I took a vocational test and at the top was 'writer'. I have been researching and writing for about five years now and am looking to take more steps forward in pursuing this as a career. Time will tell whether I have the 'passion' to stay the course. My wife and I have three grown children with whom we are close. I had the privilege of coaching a high school team to a state championship in 2010. The team won by 1/2 point which was a credit to all team players. Looking to attend another writer's conference this year and grow. In the meantime I look forward to improving my social networking skills in order to have more meaningful contact with others who share a passion for life.
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