NWPF

News ArchivesRead News

Cookin’ up cash for Parkinson’s group

Thursday March 25, 2010

ChronicleHerald.ca - Maureen Brisson was horrified when she went online and looked at what was in store for her.

It was nearly eight years ago, and she had just been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.'

"I read all the things that were going to happen to me and I was terrified," the youthful-looking Bridgewater grandmother said of that chilling period.

But at 64, Brisson is more active today than most seniors — attending yoga, belly fit and zumba or Latin dancing classes at the Lunenburg County YMCA, as well as running the local chapter of the Parkinson’s support group.

Her limited movements, however, are a constant reminder of her illness, she said.

It takes her twice as long as it used to to whip up a batch of pancakes or bake a cake. Anxiety often builds up in her body, and her voice has changed as her throat has begun stiffening. Her fingers are less nimble, but that doesn’t stop her from doing her cross-stitch.

As Brisson talks about how Parkinson’s affects her, her right hand starts to tremble on the kitchen table, and her right foot taps rapidly on the floor. That happens, she explains, when she’s excitable.

A warm Christmasy smell emanates from the kitchen stove behind her and Brisson quite nimbly goes over to stir the pot. The dried fruit stewing in port — "the good stuff," she smiles — will be served this Saturday morning at a fundraising breakfast called Porridge for Parkinson’s.

That might not sound terribly appetizing to some, but Brisson said pour some maple syrup on it, enjoy some of her compote, and you’ll change your mind. The breakfast will raise funds for the Lunenburg-Queens County Parkinson’s Support Group.

After she was diagnosed, Brisson said it was a good six months before she got up the courage to tell her two adult daughters she had Parkinson’s. "It’s shaming. You don’t like anybody to know about it."

But once she started going to the support group meetings, she got to know other people like herself — some older, some younger — who were going about their daily lives and functioning quite well. "There’s no shame anymore," she said.

She learned a lot about her disease thanks to this group and the support it is afforded through Parkinson Society Canada. Brisson ended up becoming chairwoman of the group, which she said is a great help to her. "It’s necessary for those out there who are having difficulty getting information, and to come to terms with their disease. It gives you confidence and some strength to think they, too, might be OK."

Her Parkinson’s is progressing very slowly, but Brisson concedes her illness does take its toll and it’s hard to keep up the energy to run the group. Its members are hoping someone who is not directly suffering from Parkinson’s will take over the role of chair.

Just putting on the breakfast this Saturday is a challenge, she said, because most members of the group can’t help out in the kitchen or serve the food. They’re relying on friends and family to help out.

"I used to be able to whip up breakfast," said Brisson, but says her husband Fern is the one who makes the pancakes now, even though he is connected to an oxygen tube because of lung disease.

"It takes me oh so long to do anything," she said. Just to turn from one task to another, or to use kitchen utensils that are so familiar to her hands can take an age. But she did bake up a batch of peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies.

Brisson stays busy, and she stays active. But there is always one thought at the back of her mind — who’s going to take care of her when she can no longer care for herself.

Her daughters live in British Columbia and the native of Yorkshire, England, has no other relatives here. She married Fern eight years ago, and then they built their pretty new home. But Fern is quite sick and Brisson’s disease will progress. "I worry about the future," she said.

As she sees her guest to the front door, Fern comes over, the oxygen tube trailing on the hardwood floor behind him. "We live each day to its fullest," he said, smiling warmly at his wife as he puts his hand lovingly on the back of her head.

Recent News

Nov 17 - 'Moving Day' participant is not letting young-onset Parkinson's disease stop him
Nov 17 - Focused ultrasound shows promise for treating Parkinson's tremor
Nov 17 - New research to target air pollution as a potential trigger for Parkinson’s
Nov 17 - This device will let you feel what it's like to suffer from Parkinson's
Nov 10 - How does Parkinson's disease influence depression?
Nov 10 - House votes to repeal ObamaCare's Medicare cost-cutting board
Nov 10 - Microsoft shows off watch that quiets Parkinson's tremors
Nov 3 - Utah group battling Parkinson's disease with boxing
Nov 3 - UVA-LED STUDY EXAMINES POTENTIAL OF SOUND WAVES TO MANAGE PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Oct 27 - Herbicide's link to Parkinson's disease
Oct 27 - NTU Singapore, KAIST scientists discover new mechanism that causes Parkinsonian symptoms
Oct 27 - 70,000 Washingtonians face higher insurance costs after Trump order, officials say
Oct 18 - Brain disconnections may contribute to Parkinson's hallucinations
Oct 18 - Fighting Parkinson's disease through dance
Oct 17 - Scientists Identify Structure of PINK1, Key Parkinson’s-protective Protein
Oct 17 - Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson's risk by 28 percent, study finds
Oct 10 - Advances in Brain Pacemaker Reduces Tremors, Helps Parkinson's Sufferers Live a More Normal Life
Oct 10 - Medical History Could Help Predict Parkinson's Disease Risk Long Before Diagnosis
Oct 3 - Changes in Olfactory Bulb Explain Loss of Smell in Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds
Oct 3 - Sleep Disturbances May Worsen Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease, Study Suggests