The Norman Transcript

September 30, 2012

Living with Parkinson’s Disease


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Nicole Jarvis’ symptoms were out of the ordinary for an active, 30-something physician and mother of twins. She had fallen, had headaches and fatigue and stiffness on her right side.

She consulted specialists and was tested for various diseases and disorders.

“Finally, after a lot of testing and trying to figure out what was going on, I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease,” said Jarvis, a Norman High School and OU College of Medicine graduate.

At 39 she joins the ranks of some 15,000 Oklahomans with Parkinson’s. The average age is 65 and the average age for Young Onset Parkinson’s is 55.

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Jarvis shows few visible signs of the disease. She has benefited by new medications and research initiated by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“I am young, even for Early Onset Parkinson’s,” she said. “It’s not a secret. I tell everyone I know.”

She’s also spreading the word about a special event to raise research funds and call attention to the disease. The Nicole Jarvis MD Winter Gala for Parkinson’s Disease Research for Team Fox will be held Dec. 13 at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

She looked around for an event to join and found no statewide event.

“I decided that Oklahoma needs a Team Fox event in which the entire community across the state can participate,” she said.

Jarvis is hoping to raise $50,000 at the dinner and silent auction. All of the proceeds goes to the foundation. She will cover the evening’s expenses with the help of friends and businesses. OU Coach Sherri Coale will be one of the speakers as will her doctor, Dr. Kevin Klos, of Tulsa.

There will be an appearance by some Thunder Girls. Auction items include OU sports items, use of a vacation home, designer sunglasses and other packages. More information is available at http://www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/NicoleJarvisMD

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Jarvis would like to make the fundraiser an annual event. She had initially planned a spring date but doesn’t want to miss out on a matching challenge grant that will double what is raised here.

Her personal prognosis is good. Seeing actor Michael J. Fox at the Emmy Awards this month gives Jarvis and all Parkinson’s patients hope. “He looked and sounded better than ever,” Jarvis said.

Fox has lived with Parkinson’s for more than 20 years. His celebrity status has brought significant funding for research.

“It’s different for every patient and it’s getting better all the time with new medications and research,” she said. “My doctor has been very encouraging and thinks I can lead a fairly normal life for 30 to 40 years. Hopefully in that time, they’ll find a cure.”

Andy Riegereditor@normantranscript.com366-3543

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