A Feeny man who received a life-changing diagnosis 18 months ago has spoken of his determination not to let it control him.
David Murphy was diagnosed with the neurologocal condition, Parkinson’s, in 2014.
The dad-of-three, who is now 50, said at the time he couldn’t believe someone his age could have the condition.
Speaking during Parkinson’s Awareness Week, David is urging anyone who has been diagnosed with it not to lose hope.
“Don’t let it take over your life. Don’t dwell on it. Get up and talk about it,” said the 50-year-old.
David admits his diagnosis hit him hard. He had worked for 35 years but, because of the condition, he was no longer able to.
Almost two years on from his diagnosis, David has spoken of the strength and support he has found from family and friends and which, he says, allows him to cope with the condition.
“I used to think it was all about me, that everything centred on me, but now I know that’s not the way to deal with it.
“You have to think about the people around you, your family. You need their support because, without it, you won’t get through. “
David is convinced that the Facebook page - Young Parkinsons - which he started, can help him and others who have the condition.
It has attracted strong support and David has even held a public meeting in Feeny to raise awareness about Parkinson’s. He says it is important for people to educate themselves about the condition as symptoms vary for each person.
He has also been fundraising for Parkinson’s Support NI, a recently established and entirely volunteer-run N.Ireland charity
The organisation says its main aims and objectives are to support people with Parkinson’s, their carers and families.
So far, thanks to support from family, friends and the community, David and a committee of local people have raised £12,500 for the organisation.
David said he chose Parkinson’s Support because the money will be used to help people locally.
He says he is now a member of the organisation’s Coleraine branch and has been asked to speak at the charity’s AGM this weekend in Ballygawley to share his story.
Chairperson of Parkinson’s Support NI, Bill McMahon, said the organisation was delighted with David’s fundraising.
“David attended our information evenings and he wanted to join us and start a young Parkinson’s group and we don’t have that, so David has joined Coleraine’s Dalriada branch. He has raised a lot of money and he wants it to be put to good use, particularly for those people who are young and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
“We are delighted because we are a voluntary organisation and all money raised in Northern Ireland is used in Northern Ireland, so this is a very welcome donation.”
In the meantime, David says he has good days and bad days, but he is determined to stay positive. He is involved with his local GAA club, St. Mary’s, Banagher, and tries to get in as much walking as possible.
“We have to get the word out that Parkinson’s is not an old person’s disease,” said David. “Parkinson’s can happen to people in their thirties and forties.”