A Candle is Lighted ... The Start of a Dream
A year after his retirement as a trainer at teacher training colleges in Malaysia, the late Mr.Lloyd Tan was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. When the diagnosis was made known to him "You have Parkinson's Disease (PD)", the doctor's words hung dead in the air and it felt like a life long sentence for Mr. Tan. It was the start of a journey that was to last for 13 years.
PD was and still is difficult to diagnose and there was not much information on the disease then. After the diagnosis, Mr.Tan lapsed into depression for almost two years. In 1993, he visited his son in USA and went to a doctor for a second opinion. The results were similar but the stay in US was a turning point for Mr.Tan. It brought him into contact with support groups set up for PD patients. He joined the Eisenhower Parkinson Support Group and realized that he was not alone in the fight against the illness and that with the right information, PD patients can learn to manage their illnesses better and over come the fear of the disease.
Coming back to Malaysia, he was determined to set up a similar support group in the country. The timing was perfect as Mr.Tan came across an article in The Star by Mr.Wong Twee Jin inviting all PD patients to attend a gathering. During the meeting, the attendees agreed to the idea of setting up a support group and the wheels were set in motion to register the Association. In September 1994, Persatuan Parkinson Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan was formed. It later changed its name to Persatuan Parkinson Malaysia or Malaysia Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) in 1996.
Mr. Tan became the first President of the MPDA and during his tenure tried to conduct as many activities for the members. Low funding and the unavailability of a permanent venue were some of the obstacles that the members faced then. But it was Mr. Tan's unwavering commitment and sincerity that brought many friends and volunteers who readily gave their time and resources to support the MPDA. Friends and volunteers came from as far as New Zealand and Australia to share their experiences with our members. The Lough family consisting of Michael and Marion, residing in KL then, opened their doors to our members to conduct their meetings and during those times, monthly meetings were also conducted at the then Hilton hotel courtesy of Mr. Asokan, a PD patient.
In 1996, Mr.Tan had to step down due to his deteriorating physical condition. He was then conferred the title Life President. Even though he was no longer at the helm then, he continued to stay in touch with the members through the Berita Parkinson in the early years.
"Hello there, It's me again! How are you feeling? Fine, I hope" was Mr.Tan's warm greetings to the members in the articles that he wrote and he would sign off as "Your Parkie Friend". Humble and unassuming, he was a source of inspiration to many members, caregivers and volunteers.
With the setting up of the MPDA, a candle was lighted and it shone the way for the growth of the Association. Starting off with a membership of around 80 members during the first three years, the MPDA now has over 500 members. It was also the start of a dream for Mr. Tan. The setting up of a Parkinson's Center was a dream that he wished very much for the members of the MPDA to have. On April 2006, Mr. Tan's dream came true when the MPDA opened the first Parkinson's Center in Malaysia. All his wishes of having a resource center with ample supply of books and reading material and a physiotherapy section for the betterment of the members were realized.
During the last few years of his life, Mr. Tan was often in and out of the hospital. There were times when the doctors thought that he would not pull through. Yet the fighter in him would recover and surprised the doctors and nurses. Throughout his journey in overcoming PD, Mr. Tan had the best caregiver that saw to his needs - his loving wife, Mrs. Tan who was his pillar of support. Through good and bad days, Mrs. Tan has always been by his side, reassuring him, talking and reading to him.
On March 28, 2007, the candle was dimmed and Mr. Lloyd Tan, our Life President returned to the loving hands of God almighty. While we grieved with Mrs. Tan and her family on the demise of a loving husband and father, we rejoice in the legacy that Mr. Tan had left all of us - the MPDA.
There are many of us in the MPDA who did not have the opportunity to know Mr. Tan better as some of us joined when his condition had deteriorated tremendously. Yet, his vision in setting up the MPDA has brought relief and changed the lives of many patients, caregivers and volunteers.
Let us continue to keep the candle shining, cherish the legacy and continue to work as a team towards bringing the MPDA to greater heights. That would have been Mr. Tan's greatest wish.
Good Bye Mr. Tan. We are going to miss you. May God Bless You.
From all your Parkie friends.