3 April 2021: This family decided to sell the house they live in, to operate on their mother. What would cause a family to take such a drastic measure? Parkinson’s Disease! After 10 years of Parkinson’s Disease Dorys could not control her body. She trembled violently. Without graphic footage this story brings the reality and ugliness of Parkinson’s Disease and its effect on one family. It is an amazing story of suffering, sacrifice and love.
The month of April is Parkinson’s disease awareness month. Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder and is one of the Neurological disorders which are the leading causes of disability globally (GBD Parkinson’s Collaborators 2016), Parkinson’s disease, discovered more than 200 years ago, is the fastest growing neurological disease in the world. There is still no cure. We urgently need a cure for this disease and better treatment for people like Dorys.
This story aims to demonstrate the reality of the disease for people who live in lower and middle income countries and the west too in some cases. The story is from Peru and is made by Christine Jeyachandran, amatuer youtuber. Christine, an Australian, was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease diagnosis at the age of 37 and lives in Peru. The deficit of services for Peruvians breaks her heart. She writes “Well, within minutes I was blown away by the family’s story. Despite not having my camera with me, I returned early from the beach to film the full story”
Christine started an association to help educate her community about Parkinson’s disease but she has contact with people all around Peru with the disease.
Please don’t let Dorys story be invisible. Her life and the life of her family matter and we need to let others know just how this. We need to END PARKINSON’S!
Christine Jeyachandran – Parkinson’s World Congress Ambassador 2022 & Founder of Activate Liga Contra el Parkinson (Peru)
Parkinson’s Disease is severely disabling in parts of the Spanish speaking world because of late diagnosis and poor treatment. Parkinson’s robs one ability to walk, talk, eat and smile. Some of this suffering is preventable.
Parkinson’s Disease is a growing pandemic with 7-10 million worldwide and it’s prevalence has doubled in the last 25 years and will double again in the next 20 years if we don’t find a fight for change. 2% of people over 60 years of age but in Australia 20% of those diagnosed are under 50. Statistics don’t exist in many Spanish speaking countries. The whole family is affected economically and emotionally.
In the west treatment exists. Parkinson’s disease can still be disabling and painful but in Spanish speaking countries treatment can be substantially lower (each country varies). I’m a founder of an iniative called Alianza IberoAmerican de Parkinson. This initiative is needed because:
Patient’s lack self management and lifestyle and trustworthy disease education would help address – false information (cure scams), social stigmas, dangers of isolation and inactivity and depression that lead to rapid disease advancement.
Many countries don’t have exercise and multidisciplinary programs that help prevent progression and advocacy and awareness raising is needed for this
and more health professionals need training in Parkinson’s disease.
The idea is to provide accessibility to Parkinson’s resources to patients, families, health professionals and associations. In turn we can unite for training opportunities across Iberoamerica (The Americas and other Spanish speaking locations). This will strengthen capacities to prevent disease progression, raise consciousness and educate professionals better in Parkinsons in Spanish and ultimately create advocacy for health service improvement including exercise and other key multidisciplinary programs.
Such an alliance of support has never been done in Spanish. Everyone has been working in silos often reinventing the wheel. With COVID forcing leaders like cofounder Sonia Elizabeth and I online as we cannot hold in-person meetings. The demographic is older and some have struggle to adapt to zoom meetings but our community leaders, health professionals and associations are now online, zooming and doing webinars and we realised that we are closer than we thought and can work together.
Our approach is unique as we’re not rushing to create new resources, we’re bringing together what already exists with the help of the World Parkinson’s Congress, who is collating resources in English. Our work will be to have such a directory in Spanish. International health associations exist for professionals but patient friendly resources will be prioritised.
The Project has grabbed the attention of the target population in the Parkinson’s community. Three big associations are eager for us to share their Spanish resources. Over 10 countries are represented so far including associations, advocates and professionals. We surveyed their thoughts concerning the needs of their group and their commitment to help and resources they have. This has determined our aims.
We are doing education webinars in partnership with others and next is with the Mohammad Ali Parkinson’s Foundation and the Federacion Espanola of Parkinson. The comments we are receiving show the difference we’re making in our target population and the ageement they have to see this succeed.
“Scaling up means expanding, adapting and sustaining successful policies, programs, and projects in different places over time to reach a greater number of people”(Hartmann and Linn, 2008). This exactly the aim of this initiative – Our goal is to increase the quantity, quality and accessibility of resources available concerning Parkinson’s disease in Spanish to improve the quality of lives of people with Parkinsons throughout the Spanish speaking community.
Our strategies for Scaling Social impact include expanding our network of affiliated organisations connected by the shared goals and activities to disseminate a directory of resources, promote courses for professionals, and raise awareness together (online, printable, videos and webinars),
Our business plan focuses on these aims and encourages advocacy for better services and policies concerning Parkinson’s treatment. Ultimately we’d like to evaluate lessons learnt in policy and service initiatives and advocacy to create context specific reviews that could guide further efforts.
Future investment would help:
Currently we have no funding for awareness campaigns, paid staff or a web platform. We have volunteers and willpower. Future investment could create a technological platform, help cover costs of awareness raising and ultimately we’d like to provide leadership training across our partners organisation to build up effective and discerning leaders who can disseminate resources and lead awareness raising campaigns in a latino context.
This is a guest blog I made on a Spanish website – I translated it into English here:
I am Christine Jeyachandran and I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago, when I was 37 years old. People are surprised that I have Parkinson’s because of my age and also because I am open about it. It was difficult at the beginning . In 2018 I wrote: “Sometimes I feel sad. This disease got me too young, I am only 41 years old. I grieve the loss of what I can’t do. I hope I can be there for my children when I am older and be full of energy and strength.”
But in my journey I have shown that I should not wait for the bad things to happen, but to change my destiny with determination. For me, light exercise was not working. My Parkinson’s symptoms were getting worse, my left hand was shaking and my ability to walk and my arms were affected. Light exercise was not helping me prevent my body from deteriorating further. In 2018 I decided to take classes, 3 times a week of artistic gymnastics, starting 1 hour per week of class and going up to 2 hours.
It was very hard because I couldn’t move much, I was sweating and sweating, my muscles hurt and I was afraid to do some exercises…. But I filmed my experience and my story. My video Handstand for Parkinson’s was a finalist in the World Parkinson’s Congress video competition. I regained my range of motion, balance, flexibility, coordination and I was stronger than ever. It is amazing for me to see the change in my Before and After exercise video.
Now I am an ambassador for the World Parkinson Congress 2022 (WPC), I want to encourage you to go (Barcelona). It is for professionals and people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. WPC changed my life, because I was able to learn a lot about Parkinson’s and I came back ready to help my community in Peru. I am Australian but I have lived in Peru with my family for 10 years now. I am now passionately helping to educate people with Parkinson’s and encouraging them to do exercises to treat Parkinson’s. I want to finish with a reflection on the attitude of people with Parkinson’s.
I want to end with a reflection on the Parkinson’s attitude I see around me. People with Parkinson’s usually don’t like to go out in the street because there is prejudice against people with disabilities. People hide their disability. Sometimes others want to blame and say it is a curse from God.
If they go to church, sometimes they are told to pray and to have more faith in God for healing. If there is no healing, they don’t want to go to church anymore. On once or twice it was said to me: “You need to pray and have faith”. I agree I need to pray more and have more faith but I want to say it’s nobody’s fault that I (or you) have Parkinson’s.
There are many people in the Bible like Paul, who had great faith and God did not heal him and there are people who suffered: Daniel, Joseph, Naomi, Hannah and Job. I will be the first to admit that I fail more often than I would like to openly admit, but I believe that God is gracious and loving. He sees our hearts. If Jesus died on the cross for my sin, I don’t believe he would punish me (with a disease) unless it is a direct consequence of bad choices, i.e. smoking can cause lung cancer.
In the Bible there is a story about a blind man (John 9: 1-12) and Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus said, “but this happened so that the works of God might be shown in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.”
Jesus healed the blind man and showed his power. I don’t know why I have Parkinson’s, but I have had the opportunity to meet many with Parkinson’s and connect with them. I can encourage and educate them and that gives me joy and purpose and I can love them in a world where they feel rejected at times. The disease is not good but I know for sure it is not a curse from God because of past actions.
I cannot hide my disability and any question or comment helps educate one more person, one person at a time. I can’t sit at home and hide, I have responsibilities and children, and there are beautiful places to see and mountains to get to the top off. I can’t stop living and enjoying life, even if I am scared sometimes.
I have learned that ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to go on in spite of fear’.
Ambassador of the World Parkinson Congress 2022
Blog: English and Spanish https://handstandforparkinsons.com
I was on vacation, relaxing when I met a friendly guy in the same hotel, let’s call him Kevin. He is traveling alone, in his 50’s and my 6th sense told me there was a reason why I should chat with him. But he worked in real estate, no connection there!
But when I told him about my PD association he was full of advice as he had worked in pharmaceuticals previously. He said I should get a social media plan for my organisation. Of course I know that social media is important to get the message out so I nodded politely when he kept pushing this point.
But the next day he went from a different angle, the more members you have the more you can influence. I have about 100 members and maybe contact with 200 nationwide.. not enough to get this on the national agenda, not even enough for the pharmaceutical companies to take me seriously he says. He said if you can get 5000 people then you have power.
The penny dropped.
So we need to use paid advertising in social media to get it beyond PD circles. It turns out Kevin had a deceased parent with Parkinson’s and it was clear he’d never heard of such support groups. Point made.
Activate (my NGO) needs to have a presence that cannot be ignored, so that Parkinson’s treatment and education are actually on the agenda. And so that pharmaceutical companies will come to the party with conference funding, educational resources and doctors etc. Let’s be honest – we’ll always need them, but they need us too and if we group together, just maybe we can influence them for the better.
I asked Kevin to help me draft a letter to send to the pharmaceutical companies which he kindly did but now I’ve got to step back and set up my systems to meet the swell of responses that will come in from my media campaign (create that too) and automated response forms and information sheets etc. Yes, this could take months but April is Parkinson’s awareness month so that could give me a good target.
It is funny how even on vacation the coincidental meetings with people can influence work.
Este es un blog en espanol que vale la pena seguir. Este blog es escrito por Anna Gómez Grau:
Con P de Parkinson intenta ser un blog para aquellas mujeres que deseen expresar sus sentimientos y su vida a raíz del parkinson. Esa dualidad de lo que sentimos ser y lo que somos, entre nuestro deseo y nuestra realidad.
Mirarte al espejo y ver como tu expresión va cambiando. Pequeños signos que pasan desapercibidos para los demás y son tan físicos para nosotras.
Vivir con esta enfermedad no es fácil, con ninguna lo es, y cuando te dicen que bien estás, que bien te veo, yo me cambiaría por ellos en ese momento.
Queremos crear conciencia sobre el Parkinson de Inicio Temprano y la mujer, para que los síntomas se valoren diferente al de las personas mayores diagnósticada de Parkinson .
Se necesita más investigación sobre el impacto del Parkinson en los jóvenes y en la mujer.
“Y mientras intento silenciar mi condición de mujer que padece una enfermedad (que no es lo mismo que de mujer enferma) me gustaría gritarle al mundo que ¡tengo Parkinson! para que el mundo no pierda la paciencia por mi falta de agilidad, deje de mirarme como a un bicho raro y empatice conmigo. Y que empatice de verdad, no como un acto de misericordia, si no desde la igualdad y la solidaridad.
Y de esta manera, con nuestros escritos en este blog, siento que estamos gritándole al mundo: ¡Miradnos! ¡Estamos aquí! ¡Y no pasa nada! Por ello, pienso que sería una lástima que “Con P de Parkinson” se limite a ser un foro de mujeres con Parkinson que nos leemos unas a otras. Fuera de aquí existen muchas mujeres y hombres que no padecen la enfermedad de Parkinson y que se merecen saber más de ella. Y de nosotras. Y nosotras nos lo merecemos también.” Anna Gómez Grau
This is a guest post form a Spanish Blogger which I have translated to English here so you can hear why she blogs. It is a great encouragement to Spanish speaking women with PD and I'll be sharing it with my community.
Anna Gómez Grau:
With P for Parkinson's is a Blog - It is a blog for those women who want to express their feelings and their life as a result of Parkinson's.
That duality of what we feel we are and what we are, between our desire and our reality.
Look in the mirror and see how your expression is changing. Small signs that go unnoticed by others and are so physical for us.
Living with this disease is not easy, not with any disease, and when they tell you that you seem fine, that you look well, I would change places with them at that moment.
We want to raise awareness about Early Onset Parkinson's and women, so that the symptoms are assessed differently from those of older people diagnosed with Parkinson's.
More research is needed on the impact of Parkinson's on young people and women.
And while I try to silence my condition as a woman suffering from a disease (which is not the same as a sick woman), I would like to shout to the world that I have Parkinson's, so that the world does not lose patience due to my lack of agility. Stop looking at me as a freak and empathize with me, and really empathize, not as an act of mercy, it is about equality and solidarity.
And in this way, by writing on this blog, I feel like we are yelling to the world: Look at us! We are here! And nothing happens! Therefore, I think it would be a shame if "With P for Parkinson's" is limited to being a forum for women with Parkinson's that we read to each other. Outside of here there are many women and men who do not suffer from Parkinson's disease and who deserve to know more about it. And of us. And we deserve it too.
Anna Gómez Grau
Español Abajo: Año difícil para la comunidad de EP en Perú
It has been a tough year in Peru for people with Parkinson’s, I guess everywhere really. I have been so busy doing things by distance that I haven’t had time to write the really deep blog posts that are mulling around in my head. I’ve even started some but they need more work.
So when Parkinson’s life Magazine asked me to reflect on the year and how the community was doing and our resolutions for the new year I got straight onto Whatapp. I asked my community what it was like for them and some commented, some filled in a mini survey and and some I talk to.
It also gave me a chance to think about the aims I have for next year and re-reading them again today made me think I better do x,y and Z to get these achieved.
So here’s the article with my comments along with those from others around the world.
They didn’t use the photo I sent in of representatives of my community, Susan (physiotherapist and Ramiro – PWP) so here it is. They’ve been a great encouragement to me this year so thank you Ramiro and Susan.
Happy New Year everyone and what is your new years resolution?
Español Año difícil para la comunidad de EP en Perú
Ha sido un año difícil en Perú para las personas con Parkinson, supongo que en todas partes. He estado tan ocupado haciendo cosas a distancia que no he tenido tiempo de escribir los blogs realmente profundos que están dando vueltas en mi cabeza, algunos incluso están empezados pero necesitan trabajar.
Entonces, cuando la revista Life de Parkinson me pidió que reflexionara sobre el año y cómo le estaba yendo a la comunidad y nuestras resoluciones para el nuevo año me hice pensar. Fui directamente a whatapp y le pregunté a mi comunidad cómo era para ellos, algunos comentaron, otros completaron una mini encuesta y algunos hablábamos, así que he escuchado cómo les está yendo.
También me dio la oportunidad de pensar en los objetivos que tengo para el próximo año y volver a leerlos hoy me hizo pensar que sería mejor hacer x, y y Z para conseguirlos.
Así que hoy salió la edición en la que aparecen mis comentarios junto con otros de otros lados del mundo.
Tristemente no usaron la foto que envié con los representantes de mi comunidad conmigo, Susan, fisioterapeuta y Ramiro - persona con Parkinson), así que aquí está. Hicieron un gran esfuerzo para venir y tomarse una foto y han sido un gran animadores para mí este año, así que gracias Ramiro y Susan.
Feliz año nuevo a todos y ¿cuál es su resolución de año nuevo?
I entered a video competition at UNSW School of Population Health and I didn’t win it but they had a popularity competition on facebook and so I announced it on twitter and social media and it won the popular vote.
I am always trying to get Parkinson’s in the media, get people understanding and potentially inspired to help the community in some way.
20% of Aussies affected by Parkinson’s are under 50 at diagnosis, like me. Parkinson’s is advancing all over the world! It’s prevalence has doubled in the last 25 years and it will double again in the next 20 years unless we act (Dorsey et al, 2018).
I hope young researchers and undergraduates will consider Parkinson’s disease as a research topic. We need to end Parkinson’s Disease – an insidious and disabling global pandemic!
Welcome to my blog those who are new. People ask me a lot of questions but these are the ones that come up over and over again so this is a quick blog answering 5 questions.
Were you a gymnast as a kid? Is that why you can do a handstand? I never did gymnastics as a kid but I did do handstands in the playground.
Did your coach come back? (you have to watch Handstand for Parkinson’s to understand this question) My coach did come back after leaving me and it was pretty quick, as soon as I finished editing the video. It was more like a break but it was devastating at the time.
Why did you do gymnastics? I had been watching my twins do gymnastics since they were 4 so the gymnastics facility was a location I knew well and the coach was my girls coach which made it easier for me to ask him to train me as I knew he had an adult class. There are no Parkinson’s disease physiotherapists or exercise classes where I live, so I was pretty desperate to find something to help my body move better. I knew that I needed accountability and a tough coach to push me along. I didn’t know it was going to work so well at all but retrospectively one sees that balance, coordination and strength are features of gymnastics so it make sense. I do mainly physical preparation rather than tricks and it took 9 months before I tried a handstand.
You must train every day for long periods of time? I started off with 45 minutes, 3 times a week and then I raised it to an hour and eventually 3 times a week, 2 hours a day. Often I’d do an extra low key session on Saturdays. It is a solid commitment I think it’s doable and worth it.
Does your coach know anything about Parkinson’s disease? Is he trained? My coach didn’t know much about Parkinson’s disease, so I explained the basics. But he did have a friend who had had the disease and who he told me stories about. I gave him some things to read and he might have investigated further. I’d done a PD warrior Course as a patient in Australia so that gave me some good principles but the coach really did what he usually does with gymnasts making adjustments for sore knees etc and lowered his expectations. He seemed to have a good eye for what needed work.
“In this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, host Larry Gifford introduces you to Parkinson’s advocate Christine Jeyachandran. Christine is an Australian living in Peru with her family. They met in Japan at the World Parkinson Congress where she was a finalist in the video competition. Her video tracked her journey to learn gymnastics with PD and ultimately achieve a handstand. Now Christine brings hope, urgency and education to her Parkinson’s advocacy through her website and videos at www.handstandforparkinsons.com “
Please take the time to listen. Several have said they appreciated it.
Just a quick note to request you vote for my video in a little university video I’m studying public Health at Uni of NSW and answered in one minute: “What does the Decolonisation of Global Health mean to you?”
It is actually quite a complicated theme. The other videos are great – very academic. Mine is different and narrowly focused about #Parkinsons. I just answered in from a Parkinson’s in Peru perspective. I know the other answers were more complete but with 60 seconds I just had to keep it simple.
My aim is to bring more awareness about Parkinson’s disease Peru and find funding for a small project.
So here is the link – please vote and hopefully if it wins – we get more media, opporunties for this great need. Let’s get the word out there about Parkinson’s Disease.
PLEASE VOTE for my VIDEO. People’s Choice Competition. Voting will close at Midnight AEDT on 29th November 2020.