Shelley Schreyer with her husband Cory Walsh. Photo: Contributed

Standing tall against Parkinson’s disease

Kelowna resident Shelley Schreyer adopts positive attitude to counter symptoms

Nov. 3, 2016, is a day that never leaves Shelley Schreyer’s mind.

It was the day she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 49.

She said the diagnosis came as a shock to her, as Schreyer had little exposure to the disease prior in her life.

“Nobody in my family had it. I knew very little about Parkinson’s. It took a bit to get my head around it. When you are diagnosed with it, your world opens up in a whole new direction, it makes you stop and go ‘whoa.’”

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After getting over that initial diagnosis shock, Schreyer chose to dedicate her life to maintaining a positive attitude in the face of obstacles facing the rest of her life.

Shelley Schreyer with her grand-daughter. Photo: Contributed

Part of her new reality called for her to wake up every morning at 4 a.m. to take the first dose of her medication, which she will repeat every four hours until 8 p.m. that night, unsure about what symptoms might beset her in the day ahead.

“That is one thing about coping with Parkinson’s. Every day is a new challenge and you don’t know what to expect. Every day is different,” she said.

Schreyer has used that attitude to carry out fundraising initiatives year-round to support the B.C. Parkinson Society, and will be an active supporter of the nation-wide annual Parkinson SuperWalk fundraiser, which takes place in downtown Kelowna on Saturday, 10 a.m.

Schreyer will be joined by her family—her husband, their two kids and their spouses, her mom and other friends coming from out-of-town.

“I am so lucky to have the support of my family and an employer who is very accommodating with health care appointments that I have during work hours,” Schreyer said.

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Her employer is RONA, who she has been with for 23 years and currently works full-time as an assistant manager.

The Kelowna home and garden centre has also stepped up with a $6,500 donation to the Parkinson SuperWalk fundraising effort.

RONA is also supporting the annual MS Bike Okanagan Experience cycling fundraiser this weekend for multiple sclerosis, for which Schreyer has been organizing the barbecue reception for the participating cyclists.

Schreyer says keeping active presents its challenges depending on how she is feeling in a given day, but her doctors say it might help slow down the progression of her disease.

“With Parkinson’s, most people are familiar with the tremors, but they don’t see the symptoms happening inside your body. People will often say to me, ‘You look great,’ but I might honesty not feel that great,” she said.

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“The fatigue, the vomiting and nausea are things you don’t readily notice. I usually get about a good eight hours a day and rest I tend to get tired quite easily.”

Schreyer is one of more than 13,000 British Columbians living with Parkinson’s, with the incidence of the disease expected to double by 2040.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s with the most common symptoms including tremors, muscle stiffness, fatigue, difficulty with speech and writing, sleep disorders, depression and cognitive changes.

For more information about the Parkinson SuperWalk, go to the website www.superwalk.ca.

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