A WOMAN who lost three members of her family to the same deadly disease and lived with the possibility of developing it herself has published her autobiography.
Deborah Goodman, of Crofton Road, Orpington, has endured the shadow of genetic brain condition Huntingdon’s Disease looming over her life since her father was diagnosed when she was eight.
The tragedies she faced have inspired her to change her career and her new self-published book, Hummingbird, describes the her emotional journey as well as her globetrotting through India and Costa Rica.
The 50-year-old said: "I had a very difficult time when my dad was diagnosed. My parents discovered all of their five children had a 50 per cent chance of developing the illness.
"Both my brothers got the disease and one of them, Nigel, killed himself in 2000 because he didn’t want to live with it.
"My mum was in the room with him and was later sentenced at the Old Bailey for aiding and abetting his suicide. She was given a conditional discharge of a year.
The same year her brother died and her mother fought a legal battle, Ms Goodman was at breaking point. She went travelling in India and then Costa Rica.
She said: "I’m lucky in many ways although I have lost four members of my immediate family but it could have been me.
"I didn’t plan my life because I didn’t know how long I’d be around. I decided not to have children because of it and not to settle in relationships.
"I was never tested for the disease but my family showed symptoms in their 30s so I think I’m safe now.
"I had a breakdown when I went travelling and, at the same, had a breakthrough.
"When I went to Costa Rica, I had my first ever massage and it inspired me to retrain as a therapist.
"I now run a range of treatments and retreats and even promote positive thinking through workshops."
Ms Goodman continues to fundraise for the Huntington’s Disease Association through sponsored treks (including the Inca Trail in three month’s time) and hopes the book will raise awareness.
She said: "We have to fight this terrible disease. I know one family where all five siblings have contracted it and another victim who is showing symptoms aged 21.
"Now there are so many networks and people are so open and youngsters discussing the disease on chat rooms but we need other people, outside of the community, aware of this illness.