Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow is in that category, having been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) last December.
The eight-time Grand Final winner, who played 492 times for Leeds from 2001-2017 – is isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic, but insists he is feeling fit and well and taking all steps to minimise the risk to his health.
In an exclusive interview, Burrow told the Yorkshire Evening Post he is remaining upbeat.
“To be fair, I am just in my bubble,” said the 37-year-old father of three.
“I turn the news off, because it just depresses you.
“I know what to do – wash your hands, stay two-metres away from people and all that.
“I know enough to be safe; it is a really bad time, but I am not so worried because I will do the right things.
“I am not going out, so fingers crossed.”
MND is a terminal condition which affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that gets worse over time.
Burrow’s speech has been affected by the illness, but other than that the ex-scrum-half and current Rhinos reserve team coach insisted he is “feeling good”.
“It [his speech] comes and goes, sometimes it’s terrible and sometimes it is clearer,” he said.
“I notice when I speak on the phone it’s worse; if I put it on the speakerphone it is more natural than when I’m holding the phone and I’m not as conscious of it.
“Apart from that, I am absolutely fine.
“My mindset is still the same, it is a difficult time, but I am still feeling positive and normal, other than my voice.
“My balance is off, I am a bit stumbly, but other than that I am fully working and I am feeling good.”
Burrow’s diagnosis stunned the rugby league world and led to a huge fund-raising effort.
Since the new broke Burrow has been campaigning to raise awareness of MND and he appeared, via video link, on BBC Breakfast this week when he appealed for sufferers to be classed as at high risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government is writing to everyone considered particularly vulnerable – a list which includes those with certain cancers and transplant recipients – warning them to stay at home for 12 weeks.
MND has been omitted from the list, though sufferers can self-register as high-risk.
It is something Burrow feels strongly about and he stressed: “I think it is vitally important.
“To be recognised entitles people to go to the shops in different hours, to have priority, but I think because it’s not on the list people [with MND] may think they are all right.
“But our immune system is fighting every minute of every day and should you get the coronavirus it may be too much.
“The fact it is not classed as vulnerable, I think they are missing a big thing.”
Being confined to barracks is tough for someone whose life has been based around physical activity, but Burrow said he is coping.
“I have been at home with my wife and kids for two and a half weeks now and I am pretty good, I like being at home anyway,” he said.
“I’m doing lots with the kids and they are keeping me busy, so to be fair the days go quick.
“Every day is the same, but there’s enough to keep me going.”
Burrow’s wife Lindsey is in charge of home schooling Macy, eight and Maya, four, along with one-year-old Jackson. Burrow revealed: “They won’t ask me, they always go to Lindsey – they think I am thick!
“A lot of this new stuff they teach them is over my head. Macy tells me something and I have no idea what she’s talking about, not a clue, so Lindsey is their teacher.”
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