Everyday Heroes. Extraordinary Hope.

Jessica Lewgood, stepped up to run her local SuperWalk in 2013 when the previous organizers were unavailable. Pictured above with SuperWalk supporter Rosemarie Burgess.
Jessica Lewgood, stepped up to run her local SuperWalk in 2013 when the previous organizers were unavailable. Pictured above with SuperWalk supporter Rosemarie Burgess.
At Parkinson Society Canada, we celebrate the everyday heroes who help improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s. Regardless of their personal or professional background, these doctors, health care professionals, volunteers and people with Parkinson’s go the extra mile to inspire extraordinary hope for the greater Parkinson’s community.

During Parkinson’s Awareness Month (April), we invite you to read their inspirational stories.

Getting Connected to the Parkinson’s Cause

More familiar to working with elite athletes in need of a training program or exercise regimen, Jessica Lewgood was forced outside her comfort zone when she was approached to run a Parkinson’s specific exercise program in Regina, Saskatchewan.

After five years on the job, Jessica has two new families.  Her personal family with a baby due in June, and a new Parkinson’s family, which gave her a newfound perspective on what people with the disease go through on a daily basis.  She’s always been interested in sports related injuries and is very active in various activities in her own time. Working with people with Parkinson’s has let her see another side of physical disability.

“Working with the Parkinson’s exercise group has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about Parkinson’s and what exercises are beneficial to managing the disease. Some people with Parkinson’s have other health issues like a heart condition. We’re kind of treating their overall condition,” added Jessica.

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Contributions Beyond Words

Angelina Batten, a Speech-Language Pathologist working with Western Health in Newfoundland, has gone above and beyond for her tight-knit community of people with Parkinson’s. In addition to running a speech education program, which started in 2009, Angelina launched a related therapy program to help people in need improve their speech, vocal endurance and facial expressions.

“Our group really is like a small family. It’s a personal and professional satisfaction. I get to see improvements in the group personally. We have people who increase their abilities by over 50%. Seeing that progress keeps me centered and helps me keep things in context,” said Angelina.

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Not Slowing Down: A One-of-a-Kind Adventure

While many of us see sandy beaches and reclining chairs as the ideal vacation getaway, Linda Jean Remmer, diagnosed with Parkinson’s in late 2009, is much more inclined for remote destinations and adventure.

In December 2013, Linda Jean and Ross, her husband of 44 years, set out on a journey to Uganda and Rwanda to see silverback gorillas in their native habitat.

“I was worried about how long I’d be capable to travel. In 2011, we went to Kenya and Tanzania, but that trip was well organized. We went by plane and jeep to remote locations and game parks. We saw elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and cape buffalo plus all the major animals,” Linda Jean remembered.

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An Everyday Heroine Living with Parkinson’s

As with many people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Noëlla Chicoine thought she had a rare disease that no one else had or could relate to. With a 28 year career as a preschool teacher, Noëlla understood the need to educate herself on Parkinson’s right away. Her research led her to Parkinson Society Quebec (PSQ).

“When I got my diagnosis, I thought I was the only one with Parkinson’s. It felt like my soul fell down. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my life anymore. I always lived life at 120 kilometres per hour; after the diagnosis I slowed down to 30. After getting medication, I sped up to 70 kilometres per hour. I can live well at this pace,” Noëlla insisted.

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A Different Approach to Life: One Family’s Young Onset Parkinson’s Journey

When Martin Parker reached out unsuccessfully to touch the ’s’ key on his computer keyboard, he just assumed he was injured. He moved on with his life, hoping as anyone would that he would heal in time with full movement returning to his hand.

As time went on, Martin’s symptoms increased. First his left hand lost dexterity where a tremor soon developed. Later his left foot began to curl involuntarily, reducing his ability to walk. When his speech started to slur, and he couldn’t perform some fine-motor tasks, Martin’s wife Meghan insisted it was time to see the doctor.

“To tell the truth, I ignored the symptoms at first. When it got to the point that I couldn’t get my cellphone out of my pocket, Meghan said it was time to see someone,” Martin recalled.

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Helping the Parkinson’s Movement Personally and Professionally

As the only movement disorder specialist in the Montérégie region of Quebec, Dr. Martin Cloutier is a crucial healthcare provider for the local Parkinson’s community.

More than half of his approximate 1000 patients have Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Cloutier, Director of Clinical Medicine at the Neuro Rive Sud, sees most of his patients twice a year, adding additional appointments as needed, while working closely with public clinics and family doctors to provide the highest level of care.

“The patients in our Parkinson’s clinic receive personal attention. We don’t book short appointments. It’s essential that we give our patients the time to tell us what they feel is important for them,” said Dr. Cloutier.

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