Rod Powell has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and says the community's support is vital in his fight.
Rod Powell has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and says the community's support is vital in his fight.

‘I didn’t take it in’: How disease changes lives

Being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease was hard to take in for a still relatively young Rod Powell.

At 54, the Ipswich resident started feeling weakness in his right arm, which resulted in a GP referring him onto a surgeon in the belief the arm was the source of the problem.

The reality was perhaps a far worse diagnosis, and it wasn't until Mr Powell was eventually referred to a Neurologist that he received the grim news.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition, with sufferers experiencing symptoms including tremors, instability, stiffness, muscle cramping, difficulty with movement as well as sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.

"We didn't take it in at first," Mr Powell said of the initial diagnosis.

"I didn't know much about Parkinson's at the time in 2007. We were living in Townsville and there was no support there at the time."

As just one of 20,000 Queensland people who live with the mysterious disease, Mr Powell is far from alone in his battle.

It is a condition that has permanently changed his life, though he endeavours to remain positive.

He and his wife are no longer able to travel and she has taken on the job of caring for him.

"I take Parkinson's medication and go for walks when I can," he said.

"I was going to PCYC to do a Parkinson's exercise program but that hasn't been running for more than a year due to COVID.

"I have live with Parkinson's for that long that I am used to it. There is not much I can do about it so I have to just deal with it."

Mr Powell said he would struggle even more without the support of Parkinson's Queensland and his local Ipswich group.

With World Parkinson's Day coming up on April 11, Parkinson's Queensland is planning for A Really Big Walk in support of awareness of the disease and to raise funds to help victims and their families.

Parkinson's Queensland CEO Miguel Diaz said donations would go directly to essential programs and support services.

"We are only able to do this important work through the support of the Queensland community, so we are encouraging everyone to get involved in A Really Big Walk and to help us raise awareness and important funds," he said.

"Not only is the walk a great way for the community to support people in Queensland living with Parkinson's, but exercise has also been shown as an effective therapy for those managing the physical symptoms of the condition.

"This is particularly true for young people suffering from Parkinson's. If they can establish these exercise habits early on, it may be able to help slow the progression of symptoms."

Parkinson's can affect the young.

Police officer Scott Roberts pictured with his family. Mr Roberts was diagnosed aged just 38.
Police officer Scott Roberts pictured with his family. Mr Roberts was diagnosed aged just 38.


Police officer Scott Roberts was just 38 when he was diagnosed two years ago.

Mr Roberts said he will never forget the day his neurologist told him he had Parkinson's.

"The realisation didn't sink in until a day later and the dread of the diagnosis stuck with me for three or four months after," Mr Roberts said.

Mr Roberts said he was comfortable managing the physical aspects, but it was the emotional and psychological aspects of the condition he struggled with most.

"I'm only 40 years old and that's a lot of working years to go; life doesn't stop, the kids don't stop doing their millions of activities, so I know that I can't stop either," he said.

A Really Big Walk will be fronted by Member for Greenslopes Joe Kelly MP, and his brother Vince Kelly, whose parents have been impacted by a Parkinson's diagnosis.

The brothers have committed to a nine-day walk, which will begin in Joe's Electorate Office in Greenslopes on April 3 and end on World Parkinson's Day on 11 April at their mother's nursing home at Coolum Beach.

Community members can support the walkers by either donating, or signing up to walk themselves.

For information on how to contribute, click here.

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