Living with motor neurone disease, an autobiography

NAROOMA resident Cheryl Fong passed away last year after a battle with motor neurone disease but her memory and message live on thanks to the book she wrote before she was taken from us all.

This book review of Cheryl’s autobiography “Beloved on This Earth: Life, Love, Friendship and Living with Motor Neurone Disease” was written by her dear friend Ruth Perrett.

MOTOR Neurone Disease (MND) isn’t exactly a draw card I’d normally respond to when choosing a book to read but this cover’s view of Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma and Cheryl Fong’s name made this a ‘had to have’ book for me, a Narooma local and one of Cheryl’s many friends.

In fact it is Cheryl who is the star of this book and MND is but a bit player, even though Cheryl wrote her life story while under the cloud of MND.

The themes of life, love and friendship begin against the backgrounds of Cheryl’s childhood in rural Victoria and her young adult life in the pre and post cyclone Tracey Darwin.

Having responsibility for her two young sons, Cheryl’s search for a path in life isn’t all plain sailing in Darwin, but there is a determination and persistence that underlies this time in her life.

Cheryl gained friends, her husband Clive and many new experiences through her work in the Public Service.

Her appointment to Guangzhou with the Department of Immigration was the highlight of her career, but the blossoming of a romance with Clive and the blending of their families of five children is surely the joint achievement that shines through.

Cheryl’s dedication to making their marriage and the turmoil that five children inevitably create into the functioning and loving family that supported her through the progression of her journey with MND is one laced with love, humour and endeavour.

After leaving the Public Service and with the children extending their horizons beyond the family, Cheryl and Clive moved to Narooma to begin a new business adventure with Cooinda Apartments. 

It is here at Cooinda and in Narooma and through their many trips away that Cheryl extends her network of friends.

Her generosity of spirit and genuine interest in others ensured not only the success of Cooinda but also the growing number of friends who are truly engaged in Cheryl’s life.

These friends, from all corners of the world, are those who, along with her local close mates, came to support Cheryl as she began her journey with MND.

The section of the book that concentrates on MND demonstrates Cheryl and Clive’s determination to make the most of their allotted time together. Their practical solutions to the complex problems the disease threw their way and Clive’s ability, with the help of family and friends, to arrange wonderful experiences for Cheryl is truly amazing.

Cheryl’s acceptance and management of her end of life provides inspiration for us all.

Clive’s contribution to the book highlights the impact of a terminal disease on a devoted carer and loving husband.

It is a heartfelt honouring of his Cheryl’s life and their love.

I recommend this easily read autobiography which describes the expertise and support within Narooma’s medical and allied services and the Narooma community of caring individuals providing sustenance to one of their own during her biggest life challenge.

Cheryl was truly beloved on this earth.

- Ruth Perrett

Copies of the book “Beloved on This Earth: Life, Love, Friendship and Living with Motor Neurone Disease”, will be available at the Narooma News office, and can be ordered from Clive Broman via clivebroman@gmail.com

Proceeds from book sales are being donated to motor neurone research and Cheryl through fundraising already raised more than $30,000 for the Macquarie Neurology MND Research organisation.

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