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[back] MBPJ makes Parkinson's pledge Sheila Sri Priya (New Straits Times) - 11 April 2012

MBPJ makes Parkinson's pledge


DEBILITATING: Parkinson's disease affects millions worldwide and there is no known cure

RETIRED school teacher Teresa Loi, 68, said she first experienced the symptoms of the Parkinson's disease in her early 30s when she felt slight tremors in her hands.

But she was only diagnosed with the disease when she was 39.

Mother of three, Loi said, there were times when she was disheartened but she strived to stay positive.

Wendy Chua (right) helps Teresa Loi to paint.

Lai Kien Wah and his daughter Hadassah signing the Global Parkinson's Pledge.

Canny Lock Yi Hui makes the Parkinson's Pledge

"Take each day as it comes. Don't think you can't do many things when you have Parkinson's. You  can still achieve many things in life. Happiness is  in your hands," said the soft-spoken Loi who has a slight difficulty with speech.

She was among those who attended the World Parkinson's Day celebration on  April 1 at Petaling Jaya City Council's banquet hall.  It was officiated by state executive councillor Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar. Guests were treated to lunch, performances, health checks and Parkinson's patients were taught to paint.

The highlight of the celebration  was the signing of the Global Parkinson's Pledge. The pledge was first given at the second World Parkinson's Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 2010.

The objective was to create awareness of the disease and to press for more research for a cure.

Loi is grateful for the free medication she receives as a retired government servant.

She hopes her application for disabled status (OKU) will be approved soon as she will then be able to enjoy special welfare privileges.

Loi's daughter, who wished to be known as Sarah, said she used to accompany her mother by train from Penang to Kuala Lumpur for treatment.

"Public amenities for the disabled can be improved in the country. It will enable more people with special needs to move freely. We used to take the train from Penang to seek treatment at University Hospital," said Sarah.

Another Parkinson's patient Philip Lee, 53, said when he read an article in the New Straits Times about writer's cramp, he thought he had the same symptoms.

"However, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease by a neurologist nine years ago. Lee said, initially, he refused to tell others that he had the disease.

"Mentally, I wanted to stay positive. For a person in my condition, I have overcome several difficulties with the help of the Rotary Club of Kuala Terengganu," said Philip.

Philip is also active in golf and runs in events organised by the Kuala Terengganu Hash House Harriers.

He set up the Rehabilitation Association of Kuala Terengganu with the help of the Rotary Club of Kuala Terengganu.

Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association president Sara Lew said many Parkinson's sufferers in the country have problems obtaining welfare benefits.

Last year, the OKU status was extended to those suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Sara said the monthly medication cost for a patient could be between RM500 and RM1,000.

Sara said Parkinson's is often seen as a disease which only affects the elderly. But in reality, sufferers might even begin to feel the symptoms in their early 40s.

"Those who do not have the means will find the medication, which controls the disease, expensive," said Sara.

She said it is estimated that there are about 60,000 with Parkinson's in the country, and, globally, about 10 million.

It is a chronic, degenerative neurological disease which affects the mobility of a person and there is no known cure.

Among the early signs are body stiffness, postural instability, slow movement and tremors.

The next congress will be held in October next year in Montreal, Canada. For details, visit www.parkinsonspledge.org.

Former councillor T. Anthony, who spearheaded the event, said   MBPJ had been  organising  for Parkinson's disease sufferers for the past three years.

"I hope other local councils, public and governmental bodies will also increase public awareness of this disease.

"It has no cure but the patient could control the condition from worsening if proper medication is taken from its early stage," he said.

Famous Hollywood actor Michael J. Fox also suffers from the disease.

Parkinson's Day is held  on April 11 annually to commemorate the birthday of James Parkinson.

He was first identified with the disease in 1817.

The day is also associated with the  red tulip, which  is the international symbol of the disease.

Read more: MBPJ makes Parkinson's pledge - Central - New Straits Times