Saf’s story is a heart-warming example of finding the positivity in supporting a family member with Parkinson’s. Saf worked hard to complete the 5km Melbourne Marathon recently and give her mum something to smile about.
What Drives Your Commitment to find a cure for Parkinson’s?
My mum who has lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years has approached her illness in the same way she approaches everything else in life. With humour. In our latest visit to her annual neurologist appointment, the doctor drew our attention to her wagging hand whenever she walked. This to her, was something she hadn’t noticed before. This was also reason enough to laugh at one’s own misfortunes and say; “it’s like the tail of a very happy dog” (this the PG version of what she actually said). She continued laughing as did we.
My mum’s relentless efforts to make the most out of her life despite certain limitations is what gives me inspiration to make the most out of my own life. She approaches everything with optimism and humour. The only time she complains about her illness is when she gets a sudden violent tremour in her hand causing her to spill the coffee in her mug. Even then she complains about the loss of coffee rather than the illness. Mum doesn’t believe in wasting food, but believes illnesses are a part of life. It has been in her case.
What drives my commitment to finding a cure for Parkinson’s, or in my case, helping in the tiniest possible way, is a selfish reason. I want my mum to be rid of this illness which she has learned to live with. I can only imagine the joy and relief she will feel once a cure is found, not only for herself, but for others who also have this illness.
Why Shake It Up Australia?
A few years ago, we saw a change in mum’s cognitive abilities. In a desperate attempt to find information which could help her latest ailment, I stumbled upon the various studies that were conducted and found myself reading more about the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. This later lead me to my heroes, Shake It Up Australia. Since then, I wanted to do something to help, however never found the right time or way in which to help. I feel awful for writing that, and have vowed to do more going forward regardless of how small my efforts may seem. I take comfort in the fact that we have such an amazing foundation working desperately to find a cure for an illness so close to home, and I feel honoured that people like me can do something, no matter how small, to help.
Tell us what you are doing/did to Shake Things Up?
Despite my young age, I have had my own health issues in the past. I have always envied people who were able to run and who enjoyed running as this was something I couldn’t do based on what I thought were health reasons. As it turns out, it wasn’t related to health at all. It was lack of motivation and drive. The idea of running for “fun” at the time seemed ridiculous and impossible. How can running, the type of exercise that makes you sweat a tsunami, the thing where you breathe like a 60 year old smoker, the thing that causes all your joints to hurt, how could that be fun? This year, I set myself a challenge to change the way I thought and to do something about it. If mum, a woman who has Parkinson’s Disease and who has limited mobility can still continue to push herself both physically and mentally to walk and move around, why can’t I?
I started training and signed up to the Medibank Melbourne Marathon and am proud to say, ran the 5k. The humble collection of funds I received for this run, not only gave funds to a charity I hold very close to my heart, but also sparked greater conversation amongst my community. People were talking about Parkinson’s at a greater depth. They were starting to understand that the tremors weren’t the only signs of Parkinson’s Disease.
The greatest reward personally was training myself physically and mentally to do something that I thought was impossible years ago. I have also given my mum another thing to brag about amongst her gang of older female friends (I call them a gang because if you saw them and heard what they spoke about, you would label them as such as well)
When I signed up for the run, Shake It Up Australia were very kind to reach out to me and provide support I didn’t know I needed. Getting to know the people behind Shake It Up Australia is one of the many rewards of doing the run for Parkinson’s. The foundation which was very close to my heart is now very much a part of me and I hope to do more in the future.
Best advice for people looking to Shake It Up?
If there’s something you want to do to help, but unsure about how it can contribute, don’t think too much about “doing” it. Just go out and do it. The more people we have talking about Parkinson’s and the more people we have taking part in events like fun runs, bake offs, or anything to raise funds, the sooner we will have a cure. Parkinson’s Disease is something that’s not on the forefront of conversation at the moment, but with all of our continued efforts, I am confident more people will get on board and do something to help. There are amazing people working on the scientific/medical aspect of finding a cure, let us, non scientific folk do something to get the word out there, more than ever.