A family walks for a cure

Published 2:24 pm Saturday, January 29, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
Imagine being ill and not knowing what is wrong with you. Imagine going to the doctors and having them telling you the symptoms you have are just due to stress in your life and that there isn't really anything wrong with you. Well that is exactly what happened to Bill Molnar of Niles.
When Molnar was just 28-years-old, he began to have tremors in his right hand. It wasn't anything bad at first, he just thought it was weird. He also had been quite clumsy most of his adult life.
As the tremors continued and became a chronic condition, Molnar decided to seek medical attention. After explaining his symptons to the neurologists, they thought They were probably stress related.
About a year ago the tremors began to get worse and Molnar again went to see a neurologist, where he was diagnosed with a sort of liver disease. That ended up not being the case, and they went back to the old stress diagnosis.
He then went to see a movement disorder specialist who finally gave him and his family the answer they were looking for, Molnar was officially diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease. Only three percent of all people diagnosed with Parkinson's have it this early in their lives.
Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is both chronic, meaning that is persists over a long period of time and progressive, meaning that its symptoms grow worse over time.
The disease occurs when a group of cells in the area of the brain that produces the chemical called dopamine, begin to malfunction and eventually die.
Dopamine is a chemical messenger, which transports signals to parts of the brain that control movement and coordination.
Parkinson's disease occurs when, for an unexplained reason, these cells begin to die at a faster rate and the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases.
Some of the symptoms that occur with Parkinson's are: tremors of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face; rigidity of limbs and trunk; slowness of movement and impaired balance and coordination.
The effect of being diagnosed not only had an effect on Molnar himself, but also his family. Due to the medications he was on and the side effects, as well as the disease itself, he lost his job.
His wife Jenny had to then become the primary bread winner for the family. She also went to school at Indiana University of South Bend in order to make sure that when he does become totally nonfunctioning, that she can have a good enough job to be able to take care of him.
He has good and bad days with this disease. "When he is having a bad day and can't do a whole lot, I have the responsibility of taking care of the five children." said Jenny.
As of right now there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, though many foundations are doing research to find one.
They are closer than ever to a cure but with government restrictions on small cell, stem cell research, they are unable to get any further with that research, Jenny said.
These cells present the most current genetic information about people and are likely to be the determining factor in the race for the cure, she said.
Michael J. Fox, of television and movies, has Parkinson's disease himself and through his foundation's research they hope to have a bio-marker cure by the year 2010, and that there will be no more cases of the disease by 2020.
Molnar and his family would like to get the word out about Parkinson's disease.
On April 16, their team "Molnars on the Move" will be taking part in the "Parkinson's Unity Walk" in New York City. They choose to participate in this walk because 100 percent of the proceeds raised by this event go to research about the disease.
If you would like more information or to donate either call 866-789-9255 or go to www.unitywalk.org.
For more information about Parkinson's disease, research thatt is being done and how you can contribute, check out these websites, www.michaeljfox.org, www.wemove.org and www.pfd.org.