Stuart Jackson knows a whole lot about Parkinson’s disease, but he wishes he didn’t — or at least, not in such a personal way.
The Parksville resident and head of the Oceanside Parkinsons Support Group, saw what his father went through after being diagnosed with the progressive neurological disorder. The suffering, he said, went on for years.
“My father had it from age 48 until he died at age 80,” he said. “It may not kill you, but you die with it.”
That’s because, at this time, there is no known cure for the disease, which attacks the central nervous system and leads, in many cases, to problems with movement, speech and — in the later stages — cognition.
The many years of watching his father suffer came foremost into his mind when Jackson began to exhibit his own symptoms.
“I was diagnosed in 2006 officially, but my symptoms started about 2004,” he said.
“I’m one of what I guess you could call the lucky ones, in that I have no tremors.”
That’s one of the things about Parkinson’s, he added, everyone’s case is different.
“The severity of the problem and the rate it progresses is different,” he said.
“I went to Edmonton when I was diagnosed and had a friend who was diagnosed at the same time. Two years later he was in a wheelchair.”
Jackson didn’t have to resort to a wheelchair and he’ll be walking on his own two feet on Sept. 11 when the Oceanside Parkinson Support Group holds their annual Parkinson SuperWalk event to raise money for Parkinson’s research.
The Parksville walk is held on Huff Waldeck’s farm, which is right next door to Morningstar Farm in Parksville and is called Monika’s walk in honor and memory of Monika Fritzsche, a very active member of the community, who passed away a few years ago and who had suffered from Parkinson’s prior to her demise.
Three walking courses are laid out: one short, one medium and one longer one along the French Creek.
A horse-drawn wagon is kept handy for anyone who would rather ride than walk, or anyone who gets too tired on the walk.
The event is just one of 90 such events in communities across the country, with 14,000 participants raising $2.8 million in Canada last year.
The local group, he said, raised $20,000 of that total.
Jackson makes a point of taking part every year, even when he’s out of the country.
“I walked in England and sent my pledges by e-mail,” he said. “
For more information phone Jackson at 250-594-5955.