Just like Paul Foreman in Coronation Street, Sam Hayden-Harler is a young man living with motor neurone disease (MND), and he and his family are determined to make the most of this Christmas

Coronation Street fans have been left deeply moved by the storyline of Paul Foreman, who will be celebrating his final Christmas surrounded by loved ones. For Sam Hayden-Harler, Paul’s story holds particular resonance.

Just like the well-liked soap character played by Peter Ash, the father-of-one is living with motor neurone disease (MND), an incurable condition that affects the brain and nerves and, sadly, can significantly shorten a person’s life expectancy. Like Paul, Sam and his family will be making the absolute most of Christmas this year, knowing just how precious their time together truly is.

Speaking to the Mirror, Sam, 37, has told how his condition has made him all the more determined to live a full and joyful life.

Over on the cobbles, those close to Paul will be rallying around him as he celebrates his last Christmas, with the profound mix of love and sadness that has defined the narrative. For Sam, and others living with this illness, markers such as Christmas hold a very particular type of poignancy.

Sam, who was diagnosed at the age of just 35, told the Mirror: “Everything we do, I have a little bubble up of emotion thinking, ‘Is this going to be the last time? Am I going to do this again? If I do it again, what am I going to be like? They’re my kind of thoughts when I do things. […] It makes you appreciate all the little things. So, for me, it’s spending time with family and friends.”

Much like Paul, Sam, of Kent, has a fantastic support network in place that has helped him ‘make the most of everything’. Earlier this year, Sam, his husband of seven years, and their six-year-old son moved into one house with his mum, dad, and sister, due to his condition. This marks the first Christmas where they’ll all be under one roof, and there will be plenty of celebrations to be had.

In the run-up to the big day, Sam, who works for a firm of loss adjusters, has been enjoying plenty of festive activities, including a visit to a panto, a Christmas movie marathon, and a boys versus girls games night at his aunt’s house. For Sam, who received his diagnosis on Saturday, March 5, 2022, continuing to create such happy memories is of the utmost importance, but it initially wasn’t easy to get into this mindset.

Sam first realised something was wrong when he noticed one of the muscles in his right thumb wasn’t as built up as the thumb on his left hand. It soon became apparent to his physiotherapist that the issue was neurological. After learning he had MND, Sam ‘went into panic and overdrive’ while googling all he could, becoming ‘obsessed’ with the condition. Sam recalled: “I knew very little about it, to the point that when MND was mentioned, and then I became obsessed about what it was, I wanted to look it up, while at the same time wishing that it was something else, like MS or another neurological condition.”


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