Promoting Parkinson’s Awareness Brings Us Closer to a Cure

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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My experience with Parkinson’s disease was limited until my dad was diagnosed with it in 2013. A man in our church had it, and I used to notice his unsteady hand. Eventually, he stopped going to church.

I remember feeling incredibly sad about how a disease could make people retreat like that. Maybe the man could no longer navigate the church stairs. Perhaps waking up early was too disruptive for his body. Or maybe he was retreating from the stigma and wandering eyes that he likely experienced while trying to connect with God.

Dad kept his own diagnosis private for as long as he could. Perhaps he felt a similar type of shame. But when the tremors worsened and his gait became stiff, it couldn’t easily be hidden anymore. So he began to retreat from social gatherings.

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I don’t think people like my dad and the man from church should have to hide. I realize it must be extremely difficult to become the focus of curious eyes after spending a life blending in, but I believe that maintaining a sense of community and creating more awareness are essential to the evolution of Parkinson’s medicine, something that patients contribute to every day.

Let’s spread the word

Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April is the perfect opportunity to increase our efforts to promote awareness. Every year, a month of advocacy and acknowledgment help to shed more light on this neurological condition. As more people are educated about Parkinson’s and what it does, I hope the shame surrounding the disease will begin to dissipate. It’s not like people with Parkinson’s have a choice about having it. So developing a broad sense of compassion could foster the type of network that people need to live their best lives possible.

As more people become familiar with Parkinson’s, I hope it’ll lead to a greater sense of urgency and more funding for research. Anyone who has seen Parkinson’s up close knows how crippling and devastating it can be.

Hope for a cure

Today, organizations, companies, and scientists are continuing to push ahead with the development of investigational treatments and, hopefully, one day a cure. If we continue to funnel more resources into this research, it may be possible to shorten that timeline.

I hope to use the rest of this month — and every other month afterward — to promote greater interest in the disease and the issues it causes. By doing so, people like my dad can start getting the positive attention they deserve.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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