In 2015, aged 46, my wife Alison was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. As a husband and doctor, I knew something was wrong, but neither of us was prepared for the enormity of such a diagnosis. At present this is life changing condition which progresses over time and cannot be cured. Logic tells me given we know what and where the problem is – this is the ideal candidate condition for engineering a cure. Sadly, to date, treatment is palliation not cure. There are no treatments to slow disease progression and side effects from current medication can be as debilitating as the disease itself. This has to change.
Alison, like millions of other people living with Parkinson’s Disease, struggles with many of the basic activities of everyday life. She has found exercise helps her enormously and importantly, it is also a vital component in fighting the disease. Alison now includes cycling in her exercise regime to enable her to continue to be an active and fun-loving wife and mum for as long as possible. Setting the challenge to cycle 500km in the heat and humidity of Vietnam and Cambodia might seem crazy for someone whose condition affects balance, heat tolerance and stamina, but it is proving a positive experience. We have both had a great deal of fun and are privileged to be part of a wonderful team of people to do the challenge with us. Focusing on something positive together – to raise funds for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, has been therapeutic for us both. The Trust is a leading charity that funds research into treatments that have the potential to slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s Disease.
I am doing this challenge for Alison and for everyone else whose lives are affected by Parkinson’s Disease. If pedalling would cure this I would circumnavigate the globe twice over.