Woman diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 42 is set to trek through the Alps
‘It’s only now that I have started to come to terms with it’
A young woman has vowed to conquer not only an Alpine adventure but also the challenges in her life as she continues to come to terms with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Susan Arbuckle, from Drumsagard, Cambuslang, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s three years ago aged just 42.
Now Susan is taking on the challenge of a lifetime by trekking around Mont Blanc to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.
Together with 15 others including friend Alison Coia, she will walk around the highest mountain in the Alps through Switzerland, Italy and France over five days.
Setting off on her walk on September 7, Susan will be somewhere between France and Italy on September 9 exactly three years after doctors confirmed her worst fears had been realised.
“I knew I had it, I could feel it,” Susan said.
“I knew there was something wrong. My hand writing got very small and when I was in work, when I was making tea my hands starting shaking and filling the kettle, that kind of thing.
“I got referred to the hospital and they did tests and I had to get scans and after four months it was confirmed that it was Parkinson’s.
“Initially the doctors were convinced it wasn’t that, they thought it was an essential tremor. It wasn’t until they did the final scan that it was confirmed.”
Susan added: “It’s only now that I have started to come to terms with it, it has taken a good three years. I went to a support group, it was called a young support group but I was the youngest there. The people there were in their 50s and 60s, that shook me up. That was early into my diagnosis.”
Explaining she has found more support through other people diagnosed at an incredibly young age through support forums online, Susan said she was on the Parkinson’s UK website when she saw the advertisement for the fundraising challenge.
“To say this has changed my life is an understatement,” Susan said, “however in a moment of madness I decided to sign up with Alison, a friend from work, and together we have managed to raise nearly £5,300.
“It has been a truly humbling experience and thanks to the generosity of so many friends, family and colleagues I intend to conquer not only Mont Blanc but also the challenge ahead of me in my life.”
Susan and Alison, whose father has Parkinson’s, have been working hard to raise vital funds for Parkinson’s UK and have held several fundraising events including a race night which raised £400, Halloween Spooktacular which raised over £1,500, Christmas Jumper Day and several other events in their work at Capita.
Explaining Parkinson’s UK - the Parkinson’s support and research charity - has provided a great insight into her illness and what it means for such a young woman, Susan said: “I really hope they can find a cure and the fundraising helps with that. I try to help out with research as well, filling in questionnaires and things like that.”
Paul Jackson- Clark, director of fundraising at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Each of our overseas challenges is a vital source of income for us.
Each challenge provides valuable funding for Parkinson’s UK as we continue to research a cure for the condition, which affects about 127,000 people in the UK. We are incredibly grateful to Susan, for her support.”
Training Susan has been completing nine-mile walks to prepare for the Mont Blanc challenge