MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer Rona Tynan has started saying heartfelt goodbyes to her friends and family before leaving for Mexico to start pioneering stem cell treatment.
More than 50 people turned up to a farewell tea party held for Mrs Tynan before she leaves the country tomorrow (Friday, October 6).
It is hoped the treatment will halt the progress of her disease and the trip has been made possible thanks to the support of friends and family who managed to raise £60,000 for her to go.
The 50-year-old, from Kingsmills, will stay in a Mexican clinic for a month while her immune system is completely destroyed and then rebuilt slowly.
The slightest infection could kill the mother-of-two so she is currently preparing herself for months spent apart from her friends and the city she loves.
"I had an absolutely wonderful time at the tea party," she said.
"We have been running a coffee group for 16 years and recently my friends have helped so much with fundraising.
"While I am away my husband will keep everyone updated on Facebook about how I am and will inform people when I am well enough to have visitors, but it could be months. The slightest infection could kill so I will have to be so careful."
Her house will be sanitised by specialists before she returns and when she can have visitors there will be strict rules.
"Everyone will have to be masked and if they have been in contact with anyone sick, I won’t be able to see them," she said.
"There will be no flowers, shoes off at the door, hands sanitised and no hugging – which will be hard."
Her sister Mairead Mackenzie and her husband George donated £10,000 to help. Orion Engineering Services and Caley Timber and Building Supplies also each gave £10,000 to Mrs Tynan’s appeal.
Mrs Mackenzie, of Crown, said: "Rona will be out of circulation so this was a good chance to say farewell to everyone.
"When she comes back we will have to be masked and she won’t be allowed out in public, it could be fatal if she catches something.
"It is going to be really hard for Rona because she is out and about seeing people every day."
Mrs Tynan’s two children, Callum (16) and Rachel (14), will stay with their aunt while their mother undergoes treatment abroad.
Her beloved bichon frise, Casper, will also have to leave the family home for fear of infection.
Mrs Tynan desperately wanted to thank everyone for their support and donations before she left for Mexico.
She explained that to get the procedure the doctors look at a patient’s estimated disability.
"Mexico is the only place that will take you at level seven-and-a-half – that is where I am at," she said.
"Level 10 is death. Mexico have opened it up to level eight but it had to be now. I can’t afford to go any further."
She wanted to thank her doctors, neurologists and nurses for their continued support but also her family.
"They are going through this as well but I really couldn’t do it without them. We don’t look at the negative but the positive in this family and we all have a sense of humour, which is important."
She also wants to encourage other sufferers to act now and urged the Scottish Government to do more to provide treatment.