3 questions to Francine and Pierrette, twinned at the beginning of the year
At the beginning of the year, Francine Beaudoin, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for several years, and Pierrette Meunier, newly diagnosed, decided to participate in the new twinning project offered by Parkinson Montreal-Laval. The idea? To bring together two people living with the disease who want to share their experience, learn from each other and develop new ideas for living better with the disease.
In this Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Pierrette and Francine share their inspiring story that shows that together we can make hope flower! And don’t forget, you too can make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s simple, go to CanadaHelps.org and select the tulip donation option.
First of all, could you tell us why you decided to participate in the twinning project and what it brings you?
Francine: I have been living with Parkinson’s for 6 years and I keep myself informed with Parkinson’s Montreal-Laval by attending meetings and conferences. When I was told about the twinning project, I had several motivations such as helping, bringing, through my experience, a better understanding of the symptoms to a newly diagnosed person and establishing a bond of trust with a new person.
Pierrette: diagnosed 8 months ago, I need to use all the resources at my disposition to learn more about the disease, its evolution, the medication and how to manage it in order to avoid stress and anxiety as much as possible. Therefore, the twinning project seemed beneficial to me. It allows us to exchange with another person living with Parkinson’s like me. We can share our experiences, talk about our concerns, break the isolation, find common interests and socialize.
Francine: because of the pandemic, for the past three months, our activities have been limited to phone calls every Saturday for about an hour. At this time, we have made 10 calls that have allowed us to share our respective experiences and to begin to establish friendships.
Pierrette: we would have enjoyed other activities suggested by the project, such as a walk in a park, a visit to an exhibition, an excursion to a restaurant or to do sports together or simply to be able to talk about our experiences over a good cup of coffee, but these activities are impossible for the moment because of the sanitary context.
What does living with Parkinson’s disease mean to you?
Francine: after the shock of the diagnosis, we went in our own way to seek support and information to be advised and comforted. Indeed, this degenerative disease is scary and creates a lot of stress and anxiety. In addition to the apparent symptoms, it is necessary to adapt to a medication that is not always obvious.
Pierrette: we have many questions to ask our neurologist or our family doctor. Unfortunately, these professionals are not always available so we are happy to be able to refer to an association like Parkinson Montreal-Laval. The resources on the disease, the conferences, the physical activities, the meditation and relaxation workshops are a great help to tame the disease.
In April we #FlowerHope, what advice could you give to people who are affected by this disease?
Francine: don’t stay alone with the disease and seek help and support from an organization like Parkinson Montreal-Laval in order to be listened to and comforted.
Pierrette: when facing the disease, it seems essential to us to keep a positive attitude! To better cope with Parkinson’s disease, it is important to respect your rhythm while learning to slow down. In addition, if possible, it is a good idea to do physical exercises on a daily basis.
A final word?
Francine: with this twinning project, we have established a beautiful complicity and we are discovering affinities. We are grateful that this partnership has been set up.
Pierrette: we will carry on our friendship even after the project is over. It will be an asset in our lives as diagnosed people to share our concerns, break the isolation and learn more about each other.