Daniher s dying wish for cure

Neale Daniher knows he is dying, but he is too busy living to worry about it.

The West Coast Eagles stalwart has spoken publicly for the first time about his battle with motor neurone disease, which is terminal and gives those afflicted between two and four years to live.

Despite the devastating diagnosis, delivered last year, the former Essendon player and Melbourne coach refuses to let his shortened future get him down.

Instead, he is vowing to fill the rest of his life with laughter, while using his AFL profile to raise funds to find a cure.

In an interview with former Bombers teammate Tim Watson, to be aired on the Seven Network tonight, the 53-year-old said he first knew something was wrong when he began having trouble pegging the washing out.

Nine months later, after a barrage of tests and treatment, he was told the worst.

"I didn't know a lot about MND, but I knew you didn't want to get it," Daniher said.

"I am going OK, going strong.

"On average it is two to four years to live, but I might bump that average up.

"There is no prevention, no treatment, no cure - and that is why I am talking because we need to find some prevention, treatment or cure."

Using his mother Edna's mantra of "count your blessings", Daniher is thankful the condition has not affected his legs, so he is still able to run, play golf and keep working until the end of this football season.

And he is not afraid of what is to come.

"You don't cope by fear, and you don't cope by thinking where will all this end up," Daniher said.

"You don't get many laughs out of that, so you don't go there too much."

After a career in football that produced only 82 games as a player, as a coach Daniher steered Melbourne to six finals campaigns, three top-four finishes and a grand final.

He became part of AFL/VFL history when he was one of four brothers to play in the same Essendon team in 1990.

Daniher says he knows a confronting time is coming for his family, his wife Jan and their four children.

And the condition has no effect on a patient's mental ability, which Daniher says is one of the cruellest parts.

"Part of the tragedy of the disease is that you are a witness of your body dying," he said.

"But laughter is the best medicine - and it is the only medicine I have got at the moment, so I am going with it."

Daniher will bow out from football at the end of the year and return to Melbourne to be close to his legendary footballing family.

While there, he will start knocking on the doors of the AFL and its clubs to help in his quest to bring his disease to public attention, and raise funds to research a cure.

Already promising to help are AFL superstars Jobe Watson, Joel Selwood, Chris Judd, Robert Murphy, Brent Harvey and Nic Naitanui.

"Most of the (research) funding has to be donations or bequests, so I have got to get involved, because we need to find a cure for the next generation," Daniher said.

"It is an anonymous killer, and we have some fine researchers out there working away but they are underfunded - so I will try to help."

The West Australian

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