My name is Gary and I have the privilege of making my submission to you for the Lerners 90th Anniversary Giveaway. I would like to share my story of why I believe the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario is worthy of this donation and how it has impacted my life and the life of my family. I recently was honoured by being asked to become a Board member of the Parkinson Society of Southwest Ontario and I have my own journey with Parkinson Disease, so I have a perspective of its importance from a personal as well as a professional level.
I am a retired 68 year old who worked in the medical industry in Executive capacities for over 35 years. When I began experiencing some life altering physical and cognitive issues at age 61, I was extremely concerned and scared.
Have you ever experienced a day when you wake up and your life is never the same again? Well mine was August 14, 2013. I had been fooling myself and others and denying that anything was wrong for some time. I had been having trouble concentrating and grasping concepts, making decisions, understanding both written documentation and verbal conversations. I felt sick, desperate, scared and wanted to know why.
After many months of seeing neurologists specializing in both motor and cognitive issues/diseases, a local neurologist renowned for his work with Parkinson confirmed what we feared - that I did have Parkinsons and probably had unrecognized symptoms for several years. One symptom by itself didn’t mean anything but several symptoms collectively told the story. I had been struck a blow that was stronger than any I had endured while playing football at university or professionally. My days as a productive and effective executive were behind me and from that point on began my journey to acceptance and living and looking at a different future for myself and my family. I was forced to retire and now had a new reality.
No one is ever prepared when told or how to live with a chronic and progressive disease. What is also difficult is that there are no two Parkinson patients who are the same. Parkinson Disease doesn’t just happen to the patient, it happens to everyone in their lives who matter to them.
Those of us affected by this disease rely on the many resources available and that’s where the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario comes in. The many educational programs, support groups, fundraisers and people who make up this amazing organization are the link to us and our families on a daily basis. We live with the hope and intention that there will be a day when we have control over Parkinson rather than it controlling us.
I am a lucky man and I and many others, work hard not to let this disease define us.
We would be so grateful for your donation which would be used to assist so many patients and their families affected by this disease.
Learn more about Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario