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PD Warrior Down

Tampa Bay Parkies lost an MVP during Memorial Week.  Gerard Herrero went out swinging, 10-plus years after diagnosis.

Gerard and spouse Valerie have brought enormous energy and activism to the North Tampa Support Group. Their signature is spot-on learning programs and a very special, group camaraderie.

Gerard’s memorial service is Friday June 16 at 2:00 p.m. Place is St. Timothy Catholic Church, 17512 Lakeshore Rd., Lutz, FL 33558.

GerardI am honored to speak at the service. My words will be these:

I speak about Gerard Herrero, my steadfast friend, fellow mischief-maker, lover of Valerie, and a man who never, ever gave up or gave in to his Parkinson’s.

Diminutive, yes, but Gerard filled a room with his great wit and imposing intelligence. He missed nothing. His distinctive and twinkling eyes darted and danced.

He unerringly dissected the bull shitters, the self-serving and the pretentious. His cause was the welfare of fellow Parkies.

We both loved a bumper sticker meant for dog lovers. It says “Obedience School Dropout.” Gerard WAS a dropout from the “False Obedience School.

If I ever needed a forensic accountant to smoke out wrong doers, I would call Gerard in an instant. He would shred the bastards. And he would do it with modesty.

I divide our Parkie world into two quite distinct camps. The ones I call horizontals get their diagnosis and retire to the sofa and meekly submit to Parkinson’s. They let the Beast take them down system by system.

The verticals stand up, get moving and are determined to counter every nasty punch. They are the counter punchers, the verticals.

Gerard was a counter puncher, a steadfast vertical. He never, ever gave up or gave in.

I intend to dedicate the Parkinson’s book I am writing with my wife Struby to Gerard’s memory.

I love you pal. We’ll get together later in another place and have a very merry time together.

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Half-Full, Half-Empty-Glass News About PD Mortality

Finally, there’s good guidance on what Parkinson’s means for Parkies’ life span. Parkinson’s Weekly says we’ll have a year less time those  without PD.

The Weekly’s report follows:

“People with Parkinson’s disease and related dementias are more likely to die younger than those of comparable age in the general population, often of ills linked to their neurological disease or of cardiovascular problems, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic found.

“Specifically, Parkinson’s patients can have their lifespan shortened by about one year, the researchers reported, while those with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease dementia were seen to die about four years earlier. On average, these people lived about two fewer years than others in the general population. Those with multiple system atrophy with parkinsonism had the greatest mortality risk, dying six years earlier on average than study counterparts without the disease.

“The findings, in the study titled, “Survival and Causes of Death Among People With Clinically Diagnosed Synucleinopathies With Parkinsonism: A Population-Based Study,“ were published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

“’As doctors, we want to be able to counsel our patients appropriately when they ask, ‘What will happen to me?’” Rodolfo Savica, MD, PhD and leading author of the study, said in a news release. “Understanding long-term outcomes can help clinicians better inform patients and their caregivers about what to expect.’”

“Researchers used the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a collaboration of patient volunteers and clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, to identify people living in Olmsted County, Minnesota, who received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or related conditions from 1991 through 2010. They then compared patients’ data with that of age- and gender-matched healthy controls.

“The analysis showed that, over that period, 461 individuals were diagnosed with synucleinopathies (309 with Parkinson’s disease, 81 with Lewy body dementia, 55 with Parkinson disease dementia, and 16 with multiple system atrophy with parkinsonism).

“During follow-up, 316 (68.6%) of the total number of patients and 220 (48.7%) of the control individuals died. The most frequent cause of death among patients was their neurological disease (31.5%), followed by cardiovascular disease (15.7%). Most healthy controls died of cardiovascular disease (25.5%).”