Turning grief into a positive

October 13, 2021 BY

Pat (centre) with her children Matt (left) and Anne-Marie. Photo: SUPPLIED

Grovedale resident Anne-Marie has resolved to turn one of the hardest events of her life into achieving something positive.

Anne-Marie has again answered 27forParkinson’s call for people to come together for 27 days in October in a show of support for the more than 27,000 Victorians living with Parkinson’s disease.

The initiative is also a fundraiser, with more than $580,000 raised for Parkinson’s Victoria.

Anne-Marie’s mother, Pat, was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder in 2015.

“Mum’s Parkinsons was pretty aggressive – it started with her having a few falls and getting very stiff in her muscles but rapidly progressed to her voice fading and as she used to say ‘Parkies is stealing my words’ when she would lose the words she needed to complete sentences on the phone,” Anne-Marie said.

“Her thoughts became muddled and really not an accurate representation of what was happening – all very frightening for her and us.”

Pat was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia about 18 months later, with Anne-Marie moving back to Victoria from Brisbane to care for her.

“Her decline was rapid and took her from being a pretty fit and healthy 80-year-old woman to being in a nursing home and passing away within three or four years,” Anne-Marine said.

“When Mum died, I decided I could do one of two things; I could sit and feel sorry for myself or I could do something productive with the way I was feeling.

“Mum was an incredibly strong woman – she had been left with seven children when Dad died in the early Eighties and she kept going – she brought us all up to be functional, well rounded humans.

“So I decided to channel my grief into a positive and am committed to raising money for Parkinsons Vic every year through the 27 for Parkinsons program. I think Mum would be pleased that I turned one of the hardest events of my life into achieving something positive.”

Anne-Marie walked for 27 minutes each day for 27 days in 2020, and is challenging herself this year to ride 54km around the Belmont cycling track in one go.

“I’m truly grateful to my family and friends who always support me in this fundraising campaign,” she said.

“I know that what we raise each year is a drop in the ocean but if it makes a difference for a few of the people who need the services of Parkinsons Victoria then we have made the difference I want.”

Parkinson’s Victoria chief executive officer Emma Collin said part of her organisation’s role was to help create and connect community so no-one experienced Parkinson’s alone.
“This is particularly important as people can feel socially isolated by their symptoms.

“The past 18 months have been more difficult than ever for many. Parkinson’s is a chronic and life-changing condition; after diagnosis, people want to live life to the full – but COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to that.

“So we have organised a special event that focuses on the emotional and physical health benefits of exercise, social connection and self-care, providing a sense of purpose and achievement across 27 days in October.”

For more information, head to the 27for Parkinsons website.

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