After visit to death's door, Nick makes the most of his time
NICK Duggan has no idea how much time he has left to live.
The 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with a life threatening illness three years ago, says the experience has taught him to appreciate every hour of every day.
And now, he wants to help others going through similar situations.
The former Buderim businessman has announced his intentions to set up a non-profit organisation to help the families of those going through life threatening illnesses similar to his.
"If I can help anyone out of this then it makes it worthwhile," Mr Duggan said.
He and wife Allison have already brainstormed names, and plan to have a volunteer board in both San Francisco, where he has been in and out of hospital for the past 18 months, and here on the Coast.
Mr Duggan wants to see the service offer legal advice and counselling.
"It's a sad situation when families go through this and don't know what to do," he said.
"People's attitudes change instantly when they're sick. They tend to be very negative and that in itself is half the battle.
"I truly believe that my survival has a lot to do with my attitude. Once you give up on yourself, I think these diseases tend to get stronger."
Mr Duggan contracted valley fever during a quad bike ride in the San Diego Desert in July 2010.
It developed into coccidioidomycosist meningitis and spread to his spine and brain.
There is no cure or vaccine.
Valley fever affects more than 160,000 people living in the United States every year.
Last month, 62 inmates of California's Pleasant Valley State Prison and Avenal State Prison were killed by the condition.
Mr Duggan is currently back on the Coast for the first time in 18 months since leaving for treatment in San Francisco.
He'll spend the next seven weeks at his parents' house at Mooloolah Valley, catching up with friends.
"Even though we've been there 18 months we haven't had any time to make any friends," he said.
"Time has been taken up either in hospital or as an outpatient and just trying to get well.
"Never time to socialise or meet anyone."
He's adamant his trip back home won't be the last time he sets foot in Australia.
Speaking on his health, Mr Duggan said every day was different. "I don't know if I have a day or a month or a year or two. I just don't know," he said.
"I could be feeling good one day but it can creep up on me. It can flare up and I'll be in hospital the next day fighting for my life.
"The doctors just don't know what it will do next."
Mr Duggan said until he goes 12 months without a relapse, he's unable to even think about separating himself from the hospital.
The longest he's gone is eight months.