Eleven years ago, when combatting cancer for the second time, I never thought that I would be faced with another health diagnosis that would have an even more life-changing impact on my life due to its degenerative nature. In 2012, I was awarded the official news that I was living with Parkinson’s disease. What a prize!!!! As is my nature, I try to familiarize myself with as much information as I need to navigate the health care system with confidence and understanding. That quest led me directly to the Parkinson’s Society Southwestern Ontario in London. The dedicated and knowledgeable staff there were instrumental in making me aware of support and exercise opportunities in my home town of Sarnia, both which were facilitated by a caring gentleman by the name of John Scott. Over these past seven years, I have received the benefits of written resources, a support group, regional conferences and local workshops, as well as weekly exercise programs and Rock Steady Boxing, encouraged and supported by the Parkinson’s Society Southwestern Ontario. Through these associations, I made many new friendships, both with those living with Parkinsons and their care partners as well as our caring staff. Two years ago, I was asked to assume the role of volunteer facilitator, along with my husband, for the Sarnia-Lambton Support Group and exercise program. In this position, I see first-hand how vital the work of our Parkinson’s Society Southwestern Ontario is in the communities of Southwestern Ontario. In the past two years, they have expanded assistance to include webinars, care partnering workshops, facilitator workshops, and mini-wellness conferences in the month of April. I am privileged to know the staff personally and have come to rely on their prompt response to issues raised by the members in our local group as well as inquiries of those new to the world of this diagnosis.
Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disease, with no known cure, to date. It is frightening and many times overwhelming. The four “hallmark” signs of Parkinsons are easy to spot…tremor, postural instability, rigidity and bradykinesia (slowness or absence of movement); however, the general population are not often aware of the non-motor symptoms that impact one’s life very negatively on a daily basis. Medication helps, as does exercising in treating the symptoms and prolonging the progression of the disease, but it is definitely not a journey you want to take alone. For this reason, the supportive nature of our office in London provides a lifeline both to the person living with Parkinsons and their care-partner, initially as well as during the journey. The staff are our extended family offering friendship and support through those good and difficult times. They are definitely worthy of consideration as a charitable organization that has impacted me and many others in Southwestern Ontario in a meaningful way.
Learn more about Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario