KATE Lynch from Aghyaran may have Parkinson’s – but she is determined not to let it defeat or define her.
This strength and positivity towards the condition was borne when she joined the Omagh and District Parkinson’s UK Branch support group a short time after she was formally diagnosed in 2010.
Speaking out during Parkinson’s Awareness Week, Kate has described the group as her “lifeline” and has encouraged anyone affected by Parkinson’s to come along to its monthly meetings.
As of yet, Parkinson’s can be eased by medication, but no current medication is able to slow down or stop the condition from spreading – and unfortunately there is still no cure.
Symptoms include persistent tremor, pain, sleeplessness, mental health problems and bladder and bowel issues.
For Kate, it was a persistent tremor in her left hand back in 2009 which made her fearful that something was wrong with her health.
After visiting a few different doctors about the problem, eventually she was referred to a local consultant who confirmed that she had Parkinson’s.
“The diagnosis was devastating,” the 60-year-old reflected. “I just couldn’t cope at the start, and I didn’t know where to turn.
“You’re simply diagnosed, given tablets and sent away – there’s no real support given.”
But – with a little bit of coaxing from her neighbour who also has Parkinson’s – she decided to join the Omagh and District Parkinson’s UK Branch in 2010, and her life was simply changed for the better.
“I realised after a while that your life can’t end – you have to keep going,” she said. “And I think the best thing that I ever did was getting involved with the support group. That was my lifeline, and I love it.
“I met other people, and made so many valuable friends.
“And even though Parkinson’s has a wide range of different symptoms, there were even some people there similar to myself.
“I have Parkinson’s down my left-hand side, and it means sometimes that I can’t do things quickly – and it is easy to get impatient with it and frustrated. But I wasn’t alone anymore.”
At the group, where a hot cup of tea and good conversation is offered, Kate has learned vital information about Parkinson’s.
This includes coping and exercising techniques, where to find help, and the condition’s lesser-known symptoms.
“There’s so much I’ve learned from the group that I was never made aware of before,” Kate said.
“I’ve learned that you do have pain with Parkinson’s, and it’s normal to have those negative days when you don’t even want to get out of bed.”
She added, “But the opposite is also true – even with Parkinson’s, you can be genuinely happy.
“I always say, ‘You can’t account for yesterday, but you can account for today and be happy’.”
Kate concluded, “I’d love to see more people getting involved with the support group in Omagh.
“Taking that first step may just change your life – it changed mine.”
The Omagh and District Parkinson’s UK Branch support group takes place every third Tuesday in the month at the Omagh Library, from 2- 4.15pm.
However, this month only there has been a change of timetable, and the group will meet at the Omagh Library on April 25 at 1pm.