A story of support: Bev Lavender and Jeff Ludlow

Photo of Bev Lavendar and Jeff Ludlow

At first, Bev Lavender thought she might have carpal tunnel syndrome. While working on the computer her hand would freeze and lock.

So, Bev saw her doctor who then sent her to a neurologist. During that first visit he did a nerve conduction test, asked a few questions, and though it wasn’t very obvious, diagnosed her with Parkinson’s on the spot.

That diagnosis was the last thing she expected to hear. The doctor’s voice sounded very far away as Bev tried to process her new reality. At only 44, she had Parkinson’s.

Shortly after being diagnosed, Bev contacted Parkinson Canada. Through that connection, she recalls receiving up-to-date information about treatments and research, along with all the support she needed.

Then Bev joined a support group. “Support groups are amazing things. It’s just a wonderful feeling to know that there are other people going through the same things as you.” she explains.

With the help and support that are only made possible thanks to Parkinson Canada’s compassionate donors, Bev was able to continue living my life.

And then, nine years after her diagnosis, she met Jeff Ludlow. They hit it off right away. Jeff, an artist just like Bev, with a great capacity for loving, was what Bev needed at that time. It just happens that Jeff also has Parkinson’s.

In the five years they’ve been married, Jeff and Bev have faced a lot of challenges. But they both know they’re in this together and that it’s lucky they found each other.

For the first two years of our marriage, Jeff was more Bev’s caregiver than she was his. She experienced “freezing” issues, debilitating fatigue and big, crashing lows.

Then she had life-changing deep brain stimulation surgery and it made a huge difference in her symptoms. Jeff and Bev enjoyed a wonderful year together. Then he had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury. Now it’s Bev who takes care of him — making sure he gets his meals and medications on time.

Overall, they take turns keeping each other strong and positive. They rely on each other for the help they need.

Bev feels that Jeff is more of an optimist than she is. He always tries to keep her spirits up, keep her laughing, and moving forward. He doesn’t always succeed, but to his credit, he never gives up. They truly are so thankful that they have each other.

Through it all, Parkinson Canada has been a supportive partner in their Parkinson journey. The support of Parkinson Canada and the generosity of its donors means the world to Bev and Jeff, along with thousands of others living with Parkinson’s.

Once she found Parkinson Canada, Bev didn’t feel so alone because she was now connecting with other people with Parkinson’s. She met so many wonderful people, and made a lot of good friends. Although they haven’t been involved with their support group recently because it’s been difficult for Jeff, now with support groups running virtually they will probably give it a try very soon.

Like so many charitable organizations, COVID-19 has impacted Parkinson Canada’s ability to provide services and support for those in need. While COVID-19 has forced Parkinson Canada and community volunteers to adapt the way that support groups are offered, it has also meant the removal of barriers like geography and mobility to accessing peer support and other services. Learn more about these virtual support groups.

Learn more about how you can support Parkinson Canada support groups and other programs for people like Bev and Jeff, as well as the research that’s providing hope for better treatments and hopefully someday a cure.

Selected gallery of paintings by Bev Lavender and Jeff Ludlow

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