YOU are not alone. That’s the message from volunteers in Sunderland to those facing up to life with Parkinson’s disease during a week aimed at raising awareness of the condition.
And it comes from the woman who set up a Wearside group dedicated to offering advice and support to those whose families face a life with the debilitating illness.
Joyce Hoseason’s husband Ernie first started displaying signs of the condition almost 40 years ago.
Mr Hoseason, an administrative assistant who worked in social services, passed away in 2002 after battling the illness for 25 years.
Since his wife set up the Sunderland branch of Parkinson’s UK in the early 1980s, the group now provides essential help to those with the illness as well as their carers and families.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative illness of the nervous system, with common symptoms including shaking, slowness of movement and problems with speech.
Famous sufferers include one of the world’s greatest ever sportsmen, heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, and Back to the Future actor Michael J Fox.
Speaking at the branch’s annual general meeting at Chillingham House, Monkwearmouth, Joyce spoke of the strides the group has made within Sunderland.
“There is a specialist Parkinson’s nurse now at the hospital, and people like her are a great help,” said Joyce, 79.
“At the beginning of the 1990s, for some reason or another, it became a bit of a struggle with the group.
“We needed to go forward as a group, and that was hard at that time.”
But Joyce and others in the branch did carry on, and the present day group has scores of members.
Joyce is now stepping down from the group but says she will still take a keen interest in its activities.
“I will miss the people who are involved with the branch,” said Joyce.
“I certainly intend to stay in touch because it’s been my baby.”
For more on Parkinson’s UK Sunderland, call chairman Christine Hutchinson on 548 4508 or secretary Jennie Scarr on 548 7275. Alternatively, go to www.parkinsons.org/sunderland.