Motor neurone disease may have Stephen Rhodes in its fatal embrace, but the award-winning broadcaster is fulfilling his promise to be ‘a noisy old geezer’ about the wicked illness that is slowly squeezing the life out of him.
He says: “I feel queasy because I can’t hold myself up. I’m losing upper body strength and using a breathing machine because breathing on my own is increasingly difficult.”
He admits – with remarkable candour – that respiratory problems usually signify the final curtain for people living with MND.
But that hasn’t stopped this brave and charismatic man from making one final trip to Ireland to see family and old school friends, nor speaking at a conference headlined by MND Association patron Princess Anne.
He has also written a moving piece for Keech Matters – the Keech Hospice Care magazine – about the importance of having that big conversation with those closest to you.
In in he says: “Just how hard is it to talk about death and dying? Not my favourite subject but it’s a reality for the likes of me diagnosed with MND.
“My body is shutting down bit by bit. I am dying.
“I want to talk about my future before I can no longer express myself. I want to talk about my funeral and creating provision for those who are still dependent on me.
“The theme of this year’s Dying Matters Week was The Big Conversation. I’m Stephen Rhodes and I’m dying.
“Let’s talk about it, let’s have that conversation.”
Stephen – who admits he was in denial after being diagnosed in 2014 – says the support he’s received has been amazing, particularly from former friends and colleagues at BBC 3CR.
He also pays tribute to his wife Greggy: “Without her, I wouldn’t have got this far.”
He’s also full of praise for the Princess Royal: “She’a great patron of the charity, she does much more than she’s asked. She’s also very jolly and quite a character.
“I like a bit of banter and she kept coming back to chat to me when we were both speaking at the Law Society Library in London recently.”
He’s delighted he’s lived long enough to welcome his latest grandson, Theo Thomas, and says: “I’m making the most of every moment I have left.”