The first hint Sheffield mum Shelly Powell had that something wasn’t right was when she developed an excruciating migraine during her second pregnancy.
It was so bad the book keeper couldn’t see the numbers on her calculator and had to be driven home by her boss.
After two years of mystery symptoms and uncertainty, she was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. But she has not let this dreadful, terminal disease stop her from making the most of her life and her entrepreneurial flair.
Shelly was a single mum at 18 and working as a care assistant in an old people’s home.
She took a career break to look after her daughter Shanelle, now 12, and returned to work in 2005. Around the same time, she met her future husband, Tony, now 35.
Shelly, of Walkley, said: “I left my care assistant position to work for an agency to get my foot into the business field. I preferred working in the office environment and the hours were more suitable around my daughter.”
She landed a permanent position in 2006 and successfully completed an NVQ level two in business administration as well as a text processing and speed keying course at Sheffield College.
The following year she and Tony planned their second child, Ellis, who was born in 2008.
Shelly said: “Whilst I was pregnant I suffered with the worst migraine at work, which was that bad I could not see the numbers on the calculator. I was taken home by my boss as I could not drive home.
“I remember my mum walking me to my flat and she said I looked drunk as my feet were scrapping on the steps.”
When Ellis was around three months old, she started going to the gym and realised her feet were pulling inwards as she ran on the treadmill.
She said: “I also went to wave to someone whilst I was driving and noticed my finger would not straighten so I went to seek medical attention. I was told it was a ganglion.”
Shelly went back to work after maternity leave in the middle of 2009. But soon she started to notice her legs were moving involuntarily.
That year she was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. The terminal disease causes degeneration of the motor neurones, which leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.
Shelly went into a depression and resigned from her job to come to terms with her future.
“But I decided I was not going to sit and let this disease take my life,” she said.
“I therefore decided to undertake an access course in Business Studies alongside GCSE maths and English.
“I went on to undertake a foundation degree in Business Management and Enterprise, which led to a degree in Business and Finance. I recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University.”
Shelly is now launching her own clothing line called @signclothing, which she hopes will be up and running by the middle of the year.
“I am lucky in some ways,” she said.
“I have had this disease for five years and it hasn’t progressed as quickly as it does in some people.
“I can’t just sit back and feel sorry for myself.”