Life with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease

Rachel Oliver

Being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 41 after suffering many years of seemingly random, unrelated symptoms was devastating to say the least.

Strangely enough that same devastating diagnosis was in many ways also a huge a relief. You do not expect, sitting in a neurologist office at that age to hear the words Parkinson’s disease, isn’t that an old person’s condition?

Speaking at my brother’s funeral a few months earlier was without a doubt one of the hardest things I have ever done, doing it with an uncontrollable tremor in my right hand and not understanding why terrified me to the point of booking yet another doctor’s appointment…and so began my journey.

A journey that has brought fear and challenge for sure, but more importantly perspective, appreciation and a whole lot of wonderful people. For me, it has also brought creativity, after reading an article on Parkinson’s patients who use art as therapy, I knew exactly what I wanted to paint. An underwater dream I’d had many times of my brother since he passed away.

And so began my first painting, a gift for my mum of that dream that hangs happily on her loungeroom wall and an amazing journey into the creative world that is continuing to grow day by day.

Parkinson’s disease leaves me with strength and dexterity issues on my right side so painting conventionally with brushes is often too difficult and hands are much more fun anyway. Being right-handed as you can imagine makes many daily tasks difficult.

Rachel Oliver Artist Rachel Oliver Artist

I was so excited and humbled for the opportunity to be a guest recipient for Hopelight Australia. The entire concept of this company, bringing hope to everyday people just like me is something we should all support. I too have always celebrated and remembered by lighting a candle as it brings a sense of calm and hope, so for me it will be these beautiful candles that will burn brightly.

My goal with this wonderful opportunity is to continue to produce my art to help raise awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. The ability to purchase some technology suitable for my challenges through the support of Hopelight speaks volumes about their mission, by supporting them you are supporting our community and that’s something I want to be a part of.


(For more information on Rachel’s art, you can follow her @TheUnsteadyStudio on Facebook.)

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