“My first symptoms started at age 17. My grandfather had Parkinson’s and I never imagined it could happen to me,” said Manon Day of Montreal. She could not have known that it would be 10 painfully long years before she was diagnosed.
In the early stages, Manon had numerous fainting episodes. She had trouble moving, rigidity, bladder dysfunction and stuttering. Manon consulted several neurologists over the years but none of them were able to diagnose her correctly.
“I wasn’t receiving the medical care that I desperately needed. The neurologists didn’t believe me and accused me of being a drug addict,” Manon said.
Manon refers to the years before diagnosis as the worst of her life. She had no idea what was happening or why. Nor did the doctors. Her physical state was deteriorating.
“In the fall of 2011, I had the opportunity to visit the Movement Disorder Clinic at the Montréal Neurological Institute,” she said. A general practitioner referred her to the center, where she met Ronald Postuma, MD. After a long consultation and detailed examination, she finally heard the words: “You have Young Onset Parkinson’s disease.”
Manon was stunned and knew very little about Parkinson’s. She expected that it was a geriatric disease, not something a 27-year-old would have. Dr. Postuma was able to unravel her medical mystery. He prescribed an MRI and blood tests to rule out any other causes. She significantly improved after starting levodopa.
“I am very grateful towards Dr. Postuma — he saved my life. After my diagnosis, I had to adapt to a new reality. Because of YOPD, I choose not to conceive children. As of now, I focus on my health and well-being. I exercise daily and I have a nutritious diet,” says Manon.
At the Montreal Neurological Institute, she has access to a multidisciplinary team that helps her manage her Parkinson’s well. She has now accepted the life-altering diagnosis. "I strongly recommend fellow patients to build a multidisciplinary care team, because it makes all the difference."
Her team also introduced her to the Canadian Open Parkinson Network, a nationwide database that researchers can access to perform ground-breaking studies on Parkinson’s. “I am registered with the Canadian Open Parkinson Network and my unique YOPD can help and benefit the Parkinson’s medical community,” she said. Manon also serves on Parkinson Canada’s Parkinson Advisory Council. Her mission is to serve the community and make sure the voices of people with Parkinson's are heard.
For more information on Young Onset Parkinson’s, check out these Parkinson’s Foundation resources: Young Onset Parkinson’s, 10 Helpful Young-Onset Parkinson’s Resources, Navigating the Challenges of Young Onset Parkinson’s.