Omotola Thomas was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s in 2016, aged 35. She lives in Surrey with her husband and two children aged 12 and 14. She is passionate about raising awareness of Parkinson’s and, as the founder/director of Parkinson’s Africa, she works to support, connect and empower African’s affected by the condition.
Omotola began to experience symptoms around the age of 30, and it took five years of various tests and seeing different doctors before she received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.
“Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s a young age has brought its fair share of challenges. As my children grow older, I’m not as able to participate as fully and actively as I would like in their lives, and that realisation sometimes causes me to struggle with feelings of inadequacy or experience a sense of loss at the things I am no longer able to do. When my daughter was much younger, I used to braid her hair and I did it with ease, joy, and pride. As the disease progressed, it became more difficult, and it took considerable time and effort. What used to be a bonding experiencing gradually evolved into a tedious and challenging exercise for the both of us.”
Navigating life with Parkinson’s disease is undoubtedly difficult, but I consider myself to be one fortunate ones – I have access to good care and treatment options. I am a glass-half-full type of person, so I try to view this experience through the lens of the purpose it has brought to my life. I have a burden to help people with Parkinson’s, especially those that fall into the ‘underserved population’ groups. That’s why I started Parkinson’s Africa. Both to empower African people living with Parkinson’s, and to help ensure that Africans are fairly represented in Parkinson’s research.Omotola Thomas