Giving Day 2023: Emma’s Story
Tuesday, 14th November 2023

Did you know November 29 is International Giving Day? It’s a day when the global community will come together to donate to good causes, and we’re asking for your help. Your donation allows us to continue our mission to accelerate high-impact, game-changing Australian research into better treatments and ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

In the lead up to Giving Day, we’re hearing from Australians living with Parkinson’s, to share their story, and tell us what support for research will mean for them.

Emma’s Story

Emma, who lives with both MS and Parkinson’s disease, first noticed symptoms in a yoga class before being diagnosed at age 45. Emma says, “I was lying in the final resting pose, Savasana. I noticed involuntary muscle tightening on my left side. Months later more noticeable symptoms appeared – the conscious lifting of my left foot, and my left arm stopped naturally swinging when I was walking.”  After first being diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND), Emma found her condition continued to deteriorate. “I went from a limp to a walking stick, to a mobility scooter. I had a tremor in my right hand and a fixed position in my left. I couldn’t write, type or text, and eating was a challenge. Drinking was through a straw.” In 2021, a second diagnosis of Parkinson’s changed her life, and medication had a huge impact. We spoke to Emma about how she’s going now, and why she believes research is the key to a better future for people with Parkinson’s.

Why do you think it’s so important to fund innovative Parkinson’s research?

The most fantastic thing about the Shake It Up Foundation is – every dollar donated goes directly to research. Over the past 22 years, Shake It Up has donated over $27 Million into Parkinson’s research. But we need more money – even more research! Why? – Because, – Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia.  Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological disease in the world. We need to stop it NOW.  We need to improve the lives of people who already have it. The biggest thing that I love about medical research is – even if there are no positive outcomes from an individual research project, we learn what does and doesn’t work. Then we can invest funds into alternative rewarding research. Ongoing medical research projects also help other medical conditions – by osmosis. One great example is a drug that was successful in breast cancer treatment is now being used in prostate cancer treatment. In viable research – nothing goes to waste!

Our mission is to slow, stop and cure Parkinson’s through research. What would that mean for you?

This would mean the world to me.  No, actually, it would mean the universe! No, more than that, a cure for Parkinson’s would mean I could run, laugh and play all the time with my two young girls and fulfil my ambition to be a Yoga teacher. My body wouldn’t be shutting down at 9 p.m., telling me it’s bedtime – I’m done for the day. Researchers are working extremely hard every day. I know that the future is bright but, we need to give these researchers more funding so they continue to do what they do best! Not just for me, but for my family, my friends, and – all of my comrades living with Parkinson’s.

What is one thing you wish people understood more about Parkinson’s disease?

My life is forever up and down, left and right – entirely unpredictable.  It can go very right or very wrong, in a minute.  For example, recently I went to a yoga class, and then had coffee after with my yoga friends. All fine. Then I decided to go to Mecca just around the corner. I was walking in and my body started to not cooperate. My walking became extremely slow and unsteady within seconds. I had to explain to a staff member that I couldn’t manage walking to the register, I had mobility issues and couldn’t line up like a normal customer. I paid for my eye pencil, I pulled out my foldable walking stick and, very very slowly walked outside.  I managed – just – to sit down on a chair for about 25 minutes – waiting for my medication to kick in. Eventually. When I felt that I would be okay, I folded up my walking stick and then strode off like everyone else.  Anyone watching this all unfold could have thought I was faking it!  I was not.  It was just Parkinson’s – interrupting my day.

Make a donation for Giving Day 2023

Can you help us change the future people living with Parkinson’s? 100% of your donation will go directly to research, thanks to our founding directors’ commitment to cover all administration costs. Your help is making a real difference to change the future for people with Parkinson’s.