As many of you would know, I was diagnosed with Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in 2012, which completely shook my world. From harbouring ideas of travelling the world and contributing to society, my attention soon turned to intravenous drips and celebrating the days I could get myself out of bed. The subsequent years involved a multitude of conventional and alternate therapies and tens of thousands of dollars for the trouble. More poignant however was the constant oscillating between hope, disappointment and despair, while trying to get through daily life bearing the enormous physical and mental weight that accompanies those inflicted with this illness.

Eight years into my journey and after hundreds of hours of research, I eventually found out that I was suffering from heavy metal and mould toxicity, which had thwarted my mitochondria (energy generators in our cells) from producing ATP (energy) and fueling my brain and body. Following a two year detoxification protocol, I have finally regained my capacity to think and perform normal every day activities we typically take for granted and feel the best I have felt in over a decade.

Throughout my journey, I have always vowed to give back and assist those who have suffered from the same debilitating illness in any way I knew was possible. This is my time. Most of you would know that I have grown a beard over the past few years. Few would be aware of its significance which was to symbolise my daily struggle and road to recovery. Now that I am journeying out to a present and future of health, I believe it is the right time to remove it as I have removed the shackles of this disease. Before I do however, I considered it apt to not let the opportunity pass to support a wonderful and very important cause in Emerge Australia.

Emerge offers assistance to the 250,000 people living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) across Australia.

The impact of ME/CFS can be devastating, leaving 25% of patients housebound or bedbound, with many people unable to work or participate in community life. People living with ME/CFS often feel invisible due to the unknown cause of the condition, lack of effective treatments and limited community awareness, leading many to 'go missing' from their own lives.

Funds raised go to Emerge Australia, the national body working to help people living with ME/CFS.

For its essential work to keep going, Emerge Australia relies on generous support from the community as it continues to lobby for increased public awareness and funding for biomedical research.

My target goal is to raise $1,000 for this cause.

For an extra burst of motivation, I have committed to doing the following:
* Once the tally reaches $500, I will dye my beard a fluoro colour for 24 hours (with photos!).
* If we eclipse the $1,000 mark, I will shave the beard and leave the moustache for a week (again photos guaranteed!)

I would be grateful for any donation you would consider which will go to improving the lives of so many people who want nothing more than their lives back and a future filled with positivity and hope.

Shaun Moran