Baldock girl’s wait on disease diagnosis

A 21-YEAR-OLD woman faces an agonising wait to see if she has a degenerative condition which could prove fatal.

Melissa Shanahan from Baldock will find out if she has Huntington’s Disease (HD), the same condition which tragically took her father’s life.

Next month the former Bassingbourn Village School student who has a 50 per cent chance of having the hereditary condition, which attacks nerve cells causing various parts of the brain to deteriorate, will meet with a genetic councillor at Lister Hospital to talk about the chances of her being diagnosed with HD.

Miss Shanahan said: “You have to do counselling first before they allow you to be tested to make sure you can cope with the result so I think it will take a few months to be tested and find out.”

She added: “I am quite worried that I may get diagnosed as I have the same symptoms that my dad got.

“I never thought HD would affect me until I was older but it can start at any age and I’m trying to prepare myself in case that does happen.”

Miss Shanahan who lives in Park Crescent with her mother and older sister explained: “I have known since I was 11 that it was possible for me to have the disease and it’s always been my biggest fear but I think as I have got older I have accepted the position that I’m in and that there is nothing I can do to change it.”

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Miss Shanahan who is currently unemployed has shown symptoms for a few years which started with depression.

She now suffers from anxiety, mood swings, tiredness and twitching in her arms and legs.

Talking about future plans she said: “If I get diagnosed with HD it will stop me from driving, which is such a shame as I recently brought a car with the money my dad left me.

“I want to achieve all my dreams and ambitions before HD takes over my life. I love horse riding and the thought of not being able to do that one day is quite sad for me.”

Miss Shanahan’s father, Brendan Shanahan was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 35 and died at the age of 55 in March.

He did not know he was at risk of HD despite his father having the condition.

Miss Shanahan said her father lived with HD for a long time and deteriorated very quickly.

Her older sister Natalie, who has chosen not to be tested for HD. She has not been given the all clear by doctors, but Miss Shanahan says her sister shows no symptoms of the condition.

To raise awareness of HD Miss Shanahan will take part in a Santa fun run in London on December 9 to raise money for the Huntington’s Disease Association.

To support Miss Shanahan visit to follow her story visit her blog at