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May Parkinson's Spotlight

Learn more about Anna Signore

May Parkinson's Spotlight

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Signore. Anna is from Italy and came to the United States when she was 11 years old with her parents and two little brothers. Like many people who migrated to the US, Anna didn’t know any English when she was first enrolled into 5th grade. She shared her classmates were very kind and helped her learn English. They even taught Anna her first word in English, dandelion. As an adult, Anna worked in the life insurance policy business before she started her own family. Anna had 3 children, but unfortunately her first born passed at 4 years old due to complications from Down Syndrome. “When you lose a child you come closer to the ones you have” shared Anna. She now loves to spend her time gardening with her grandkids, volunteering at proctors, teaching Italian, and running her very own Parkinson’s support group.

Anna’s journey to her PD diagnosis first started with sinus problems. She had a CT scan and an MRI to try to figure out why she was having such issues with her sinuses. The results showed lesions, which led to a possible MS diagnosis, and a cyst. She had her cyst removed in 2021. Soon after her thumb started to have a tremor and her Doctor noticed that her arm was not swinging when she walked. Anna also noticed a weird fruity and metal taste in her mouth. She went to a neurologist who said “you have Parkinson’s. Take these medications for 2 months and if you feel good you have Parkinson’s.” Anna, like many of you, left feeling confused and misguided. She called the Parkinson’s Foundation for help and they recommended seeing a Movement Disorder Specialist. A few months later, they were able to confirm a PD diagnosis, but after listening to Anna’s concerns and performing a thorough examination, she was not prescribed medications. I believe many of you can relate to this experience of a roundabout way to a diagnosis and just being prescribed medications because you have PD. Anna’s experience highlights the importance of finding a provider that works with you and really listens.

Anna had to heavily rely on the Parkinson’s Foundation to gain more information about her diagnosis. “If I had to call the foundation to get all of this information, why isn’t there anything local to help me?” Anna thought. Anna really believed that other people needed this information just like she did and wanted to “try to educate people like I wanted to be educated.” She decided to start a support group to help build a comfort zone for people, to help educate, to promote exposure, and to help show that PD is not a “death sentence.” She contacted the Glenville Senior Center and is now hosting a support group every 3rd Thursday of the month at 1:30 PM. Anna shared that people from her support group have started to branch out to other Parkinson’s related groups in the area, which has been really rewarding for her to see. Anna’s philosophy with her support group is that it is a group effort. “Let’s work together and see what we can find out.” In the future, Anna wants to plan activities outside of her support group like a picnic and a hike. She also wants to help neurologists in our area be more aware of what resources are out there so their patients can gain access and knowledge faster.

Anna lives well with PD by trying to live as if she doesn’t have Parkinson’s. She doesn’t allow her diagnosis to impede herself from doing things. “Be in control of yourself and don’t let Parkinson’s control you.” Anna believes that a healthy diet goes a long way. She tries to eat clean by growing a lot of her own food. She is very skeptical of produce in the grocery store because she has no idea what chemicals are used on them. Like many of you, Anna tries to regularly exercise to stay active and will spend hours in her yard and garden. She spends time with her grandkids throughout the week and they leave her exhausted, but in a good way.

Advice from Anna:

“Reach out to your friends and family for support. Live as normal as possible. Avoid stressful situations if you can. Eat well. Avoid roads NOT traveled. Surround yourself with brilliance, those brilliant rays will guide you through.”

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