In 2018, Helen Tolhurst gave up her much-loved career as a GP to care for her partner who was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. A year later, she learned she had Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis absolutely shocked her. “All I could see was the wheelchair.”
“Gradually I came to terms with the diagnosis and started to think, ‘Well, it’s going to be a while until I’m disabled. And until then I’m just going to regard every day as a gift.”
But at a neurologist’s suggestion, Helen found a Parkinson’s Support Group, and it gave her a glimmer of hope again.
Those first hours and weeks after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be some of the most frightening and isolating in people’s lives. This is where a call to the Parkinson’s NSW HealthLine can help. Staffed by Parkinson’s Specialist Nurses, a call to the HealthLine helps connect people to critical health supports and services in their local community, including Support Groups.
Parkinson’s Support Groups are informal gatherings of people who share similar experiences, situations or issues. There are more than 70 Parkinson’s Support Groups throughout metropolitan and regional NSW.
They provide opportunities to hear from health professionals, share information and strategies and social and peer supports, helping break down any feelings of isolation associated with the disease.
Support Groups like Helen’s don’t operate alone. They need administration support to be set up and continue into the future so that nobody misses out. That’s where Parkinson’s NSW comes in.