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Susan Beech and her husband Jerrold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, feel that the most difficult parts of living with the condition are the day-to-day things such as people in public simply not understanding the circumstances of the disease. Oftentimes, a person’s motor behaviour is beyond their control. They stress the importance of research, education, and awareness in improving the lives of those affected with Parkinson’s. Education and awareness must be at the root of improving the public’s compassion for those affected by the disease because people cannot exhibit compassion towards an issue they do not comprehend and perceive. By helping others gain a better understanding of the disease, people can develop more empathy towards those affected.

Being involved in support groups with people with lived experiences has allowed Susan and Jerrold to build a support network and to be understood. Having friends in a support group that understand you is much better than navigating through this disease alone. Even if you are not personally affected by the disease, you may be taking care of someone that does or know of someone that has the disease. Ultimately, it is nearly impossible to fully grasp the troubles that the disease presents without witnessing and experiencing it first-hand; so joining a support group means you are surrounded by people who truly acknowledge your struggles. Through joining a support group, you can gain insights into the conditions and complexities of the disease which will be helpful when you give back to your community!

Susan and Jerrold value the connections and friendships that they gain from Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario and feel that the members are really “a big family” who all have each other’s backs. Without lovely members like Susan and Jerrold, this camaraderie that has been built at Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario would not be possible!