Yorkshire mum's secret Parkinson's battle after diagnosis at 46

Mother Emma Moscrop, reeling from a Parkinson’s diagnosis at just 46, kept it a secret for two years as she fought to readjust to the future it now promised.

The shared dreams, of retirement and travel with husband Keith, put aside amid a stark reality that he would likely one day become her carer.

Emma Moscrop, diagnosed with Parkinson's at 46, is determined to keep as fit and healthy as she can. Image: Tony Johnson

Emma Moscrop, diagnosed with Parkinson's at 46, is determined to keep as fit and healthy as she can. Image: Tony Johnson

But when it comes to her two young boys, she says today, she refuses to relent to the disease. The diagnosis, as shocking and abhorrent as it is, fuels a fire.

To do everything in her power to stave off its onset for as long as possible, so she can make the most of every moment while she is still physically able.

“I made a vow to myself, that I would get my youngest son to 18, without it having too bad an impact on him,” the now 50-year-old. “That’s what drives me.

“To keep myself as healthy as possible, and to do as much as possible to encourage people to support Parkinson’s UK in its fight to try and find a cure or somehow to slow it down.”

Emma Moscrop, pictured on Ilkley Moor where she often goes for rigorous walks with friends in a bid to keep as healthy as she can to stave of Parkinson's symptoms. Image: Tony Johnson.

Emma Moscrop, pictured on Ilkley Moor where she often goes for rigorous walks with friends in a bid to keep as healthy as she can to stave of Parkinson's symptoms. Image: Tony Johnson.

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Diagnosis

Mrs Moscrop, a former corporate lawyer in London, returned to her home county of Yorkshire when her children were young, and now works for Macmillan Cancer Support looking after its pensions.

When we meet, there is no evidence of the disease that is ever so slowly progressing. But she knows her body, she says, and that first tremor which was noticeable in just one finger four years ago is increasingly apparent.

It was the week before the summer holidays, and a planned camping trip, when the diagnosis the Ilkley couple feared had been confirmed.

Emma Moscrop, pictured on a recent charity walk at Ilkley's Cow and Calf for Parkinson's UK with sons Matthew and Oliver, now aged 11 and 13.

Emma Moscrop, pictured on a recent charity walk at Ilkley's Cow and Calf for Parkinson's UK with sons Matthew and Oliver, now aged 11 and 13.

“We decided that we were not immediately going to tell the children,” said Mrs Moscrop. “We had to try and work through what it meant for us all.

“Matthew and Oliver were just seven and nine - what did this mean for us as a family? That is the great frustration. Nobody can tell you.”

Most people with Parkinson’s disease are aged over 60 and the condition, which progressively affects the brain’s control over movement, is also more common among men.

As a woman, and a mother, Mrs Moscrop had been bewildered by her diagnosis, and with how to share it with her young sons.

Emma Moscrop, from Ilkley, has spoken of how a diagnosis with Parkinson's at just 46 has brought some positivity to her life. Image: Tony Johnson.

Emma Moscrop, from Ilkley, has spoken of how a diagnosis with Parkinson's at just 46 has brought some positivity to her life. Image: Tony Johnson.

“There is an embarrassment, as to what it’s going to mean in the future,” she said.

“But I’ve been amazed by the support I’ve had, when I was actually brave enough to come out and admit it.”

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Volunteering and research

Both Mr and Mrs Moscrop volunteer for research projects, in the hope of one day finding a cure.

While medications and treatments have stayed the same for years, there is some hope of a breakthrough with current research.

They have also now raised nearly £10,000 for Parkinson’s UK, asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents and with a recent walk which drew a community crowd.

Emma Moscrop, from Ilkley, has spoken of how she kept her Parkinson's diagnosis a secret for two years from all but her husband and the closest of friends, as she tried to come to terms with what it would mean for her family. Image: Tony Johnson.

Emma Moscrop, from Ilkley, has spoken of how she kept her Parkinson's diagnosis a secret for two years from all but her husband and the closest of friends, as she tried to come to terms with what it would mean for her family. Image: Tony Johnson.

“Some of the children on the walk actually gave me their own pocket money, which really touched me,” said Mrs Moscrop.

And today, while Mrs Moscrop has a tremor, is losing her sense of smell, and is often tired, she is doing everything she can to stave off symptoms.

Rigorous exercise keeps her physically well, she says, but also helps to overcome the anxiety and depression which can be a common side affect of the condition and its diagnosis.

“The exercise for me is a saviour, not just physically but mentally. That’s an aspect of Parkinson’s that’s quite often never spoken about.”

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Living life to its fullest

And she is very focused now, on what matters. The condition, in an unexpected way, has brought incredible strength to the family as they rethink what is important to them.

“It’s given me the opportunity to say I’m not ‘saving the best’,” she says with a laugh.

“The best crockery, the best dress - I’m just going to jump right in, and live the best I can right now.

“I hate having Parkinson’s, of course I do,” she adds. “But I’m lucky because I had that wake up call, to say enjoy every moment.”

And while it was a shocking diagnosis, she is adamant that it has brought about a hugely positive outlook to life.

“Nobody knows what the future holds, but I have a bit of an idea of what mine might look like,” she says.

“I wake up every morning and I think this could be the best day of my remaining, hopefully very long life.

“I live every day the best I can.”

Mrs Moscrop is raising funds for research with Parkinson's UK, to visit her fundraising page click here.
Parkinson's UK

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is no cure.

According to Parkinson’s UK, it affects 145,000 people in the UK, including 11,426 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Every hour, two people in the country are told they have Parkinson’s.

The condition develops when nerve cells responsible for producing a chemical in the brain known as dopamine die.

Dopamine allows messages to be sent to parts of the brain that coordinate movement, and some of the early signs can include loss of sense of smell, or handwriting getting smaller.

Parkinson’s UK is the largest charitable funder of research in Europe, with an ambition to find a cure and improve a quality of life for those affected. It has made “vital” discoveries over the past 50 years, the charity says, and believes improved treatments could be possible within years.

Family and friends, as well as members of the Ilkley community, joined Emma Moscrop for a recent walk to raise funds for research through charity Parkinson's UK.

Family and friends, as well as members of the Ilkley community, joined Emma Moscrop for a recent walk to raise funds for research through charity Parkinson's UK.

A recent fundraiser walk has helped to raise thousands for Parkinson's UK after Ilkley mother Emma Moscrop was diagnosed at the age of just 46.

A recent fundraiser walk has helped to raise thousands for Parkinson's UK after Ilkley mother Emma Moscrop was diagnosed at the age of just 46.

Ilkley mother Emma Moscrop has spoken of how she hopes to raise awareness of Parkinson's and to fund research towards a cure of to slow the condition. Image:Tony Johnson.

Ilkley mother Emma Moscrop has spoken of how she hopes to raise awareness of Parkinson's and to fund research towards a cure of to slow the condition. Image:Tony Johnson.