Living with Parkinson's disease

As a single mum of four children, Jo Makamaka is juggling many responsibilities. She is not complaining though, just cherishing the opportunity to look after her children and take part in a host of activities which were not always within her reach.

Jo first saw a neurologist in her early-20s in response to a collection of unusual symptoms, but it was not until many years later that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after seeing neurologist and Kolling Institute Executive Director Professor Carolyn Sue.

“I was just relieved to get the diagnosis, not mad,” Jo said.

“There was tremendous pressure with having something wrong, but not knowing what is was. It had a huge emotional toll and was a very challenging time, with plenty of tears.”

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and tailored treatment approach has transformed Jo’s life.

“What this has done for me is give me my life back. It’s meant I’ve been able to be a mum, to take my kids to school, to make lunches and even drive.

“Before, I would never put my hand up for simple activities like helping out at the school canteen, or signing my kids up for weekend sport.

“I couldn’t do that as I wasn’t reliable, but I’m now able to do things everyone else can do. I can make plans and commit to activities, and be confident I will be able to follow through.

“The medication is not only helping me physically, but mentally as well as I am more confident and less anxious.”

Jo is tremendously grateful to Professor Sue, an internationally recognised expert on movement disorders and mitochondrial diseases. Professor Sue runs the largest clinic in Australia for patients with Mitochondrial disease, while also driving globally significant research.

Jo’s tailored treatment was informed by the latest research and clinical experience, and she is thankful for the care she has received.

“Professor Sue is really special and her passion for what she does is amazing. Her work is really valuable and I have benefitted greatly from her expertise and experience.

“I have greatly welcomed her understanding, as she carefully listened to what I was going through.

“Everything she does she cares about, putting her heart and soul into it.

“I am so appreciative of the care I’ve had access to. The advice that I received, backed by research, has not only changed my life, but my family’s experience as well.”