It took Co Armagh man Gordon Adair six months to digest the life-changing news that he received in a neurologist’s office last March.
“You have a brain disease, it’s going to get worse and there’s nothing we can do to stop it,” is what the 45-year-old, father-of-two was told in the kindest way possible.
It was a huge blow but after Gordon had “got his head round” the fact that he had Parkinson’s he decided the best approach was to “get on with things and be pro-active”.
In this can-do spirit, the BBC journalist, who worked for the Portadown Times for a number of years, is taking part in a walk at Loughgall Country Park on Saturday, August 31 to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.
The charity’s support was invaluable to Gordon and his family after his diagnosis, and he is keen on supporting research into finding a cure for the disease which affects around one in 500 of the UK population.
The Movers and Shakers walk has been organised by Gordon’s wife Denise and will see around 30 family members and friends taking different routes around the country park to increase awareness of Parkinson’s and raise funds.
Gordon counts himself lucky that his speech has not been affected and he is able to continue working as a regional reporter. However, he has developed a tremor down his left side and some slowness and stiffness of movement.
He said, “It can take me a little longer to do things but I find people are very understanding and incredibly supportive.”
In fact, the “silver lining” in Gordon’s diagnosis is that it has put things in perspective. He explained, “I don’t worry about the small things any more and I live more in the present. Getting out to work keeps my mind off it and I believe having a positive mental attitude can make a big difference.”
His diagnosis has also brought him into contact with some “really inspirational people” including his consultant at Craigavon Hospital Raeburn Forbes, nurse Fiona Patterson and Professor Roger Barker, who heads a stem cell research project at Cambridge.
Said Gordon, “It sounds like a cliche but I have been really touched by the way people have responded and the kindness and understanding they have shown.”
Although Gordon has had to give up his hobby of riding motorbikes, he has taken up a new one - golf - on the advice of his consultant and is still able to play with his much-loved young daughters.
He said, “There is a lot of interesting research work going on and there is hope of a cure but it is frustratingly slow.”