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Parkinson’s patients band together to spread positivity

They write book to share their stories with others struggling with the disease

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Hedy Yang on 12 Apr 2021

The New Paper

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When Ms Margaret Mary Wan, 70, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015, she was desperate and felt her "world crumbled", taking almost a year to accept her condition.

 

Five years later, her husband, who was also her caregiver, was diagnosed with the same condition.

 

However, they were determined to stay "positive and hopeful" in the lifelong battle.

 

"It has changed for me now that I have to look out for him, as I had always looked to him as my hero," Ms Wan told The New Paper.

 

EXTEND KINDNESS

 

"We always make sure we are happy. If we discover the other is feeling negative, we will say something nice (to each other), or he would take me out."

 

Now, the retiree wants to further extend such kindness and support to a bigger community.

 

Last November, along with Mr Chua Teck Koon, 62, and Ms Doris Chow, 59, Ms Wan and 22 other members of Parkinson Society Singapore (PSS) gathered to write a book called Beating The Odds that shares their journeys battling the disease as "PD warriors".

 

The book, which documents patients and caregivers' journeys in fighting Parkinson's, will be given out to people who have helped them and also to those who might be struggling to deal with the disease as part of PSS' 25th anniversary celebrations.

 

For Mr Chua, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2017, acceptance of the disease took three days, but the real battle had just begun.

 

Mr Chua, who is also retired, said: "The moment I accepted that I had PD (Parkinson's disease), I told myself that I would not isolate myself and wallow in self-pity."

 

As keeping an active lifestyle is crucial in slowing the progression of Parkinson's, Mr Chua exercises daily, sometimes with physical therapists in group sessions at PSS, other times with friends and family in parks.

 

Together with about 10 members at PSS, Mr Chua started a support group, Befrienders, to encourage one another in battling the disease.

 

He wrote in his story: "We felt that no one should walk alone and we have to stay connected with one another. The moment that we are prepared to come out to meet with others, half the battle is won."

 

Mr Pang Boon Kow, 72, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2012.

 

The retiree considers PSS his "second home" and often goes the extra mile to help other Parkinson's sufferers, such as travelling from Ang Mo Kio to Jurong East to visit a fellow patient, and bringing them food.

 

Mr Pang said that it is more important to raise awareness of the needs of those with Parkinson's within the larger community in Singapore.

 

He said: "I wish that one day, if I am stuck at the cashier with a freezing episode, when I turn around and tell the person behind me, 'Sorry, I have Parkinson's,' they will say, 'It's alright uncle, take your time'."

 

CHARITY RUN

 

PSS launched the Move to Beat Parkinson virtual charity run yesterday on World Parkinson's Day in support of People with Parkinson's in Singapore.

 

To show your support and make contributions to their journeys, you can register as an individual or in groups of two to five to complete either 25km, 50km, 100km, or 250km between April and July.

 

Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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