NORMAN — Nov. 1, 2011, is a day that Nicole Jarvis, M.D., will never forget.
It was on this day that Jarvis, who was only 38, was officially given the diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Now, at 40, Jarvis juggles her illness, her obstetrics and gynecology practice in Norman, her family — which includes 5-year-old identical twin boys — and her illness.
“Parkinson’s is not only an old person’s disease. The average age of people who have Parkinson’s is over the age of 60 and people picture a 70-year-old grandpa at the mall shuffling along. I just turned 40, I was diagnosed when I was 38, there is a patient in Tulsa who is 18. There are lots of people who are young that have Parkinson’s disease,” Jarvis said.
When Jarvis was first diagnosed, she was very ill and it took her doctors about six months to figure out which medications would work best.
“By late spring, I was feeling a lot better, and over the summer is when I knew I needed to do something,” Jarvis said.
Something Jarvis knew she needed to do was bring attention to and raise money for her illness. With 15,000 Parkinson’s patients in Oklahoma, Jarvis knew she wasn’t alone, but still she wasn’t able to find an organization in the state that was dedicated to finding a cure or raising money for Parkinson’s.
“I looked into multiple foundations, but I settled on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for two reasons. For one, their mission statement is that they hope to put themselves out of business by finding a cure. And they spend 88 cents out of every dollar donated straight to research,” Jarvis said.
Fox, who has a decorated television and film career, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 29. Fox, for the most part, has now dedicated his life to bringing attention to Parkinson’s.