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Local Group Aims to Shine Light on Huntington's Disease

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LAWTON, Okla_A crowd of people flocked to Cameron University on Saturday hoping to raise awareness of a debilitating disease that causes the loss of the ability to walk, talk and even think.

Huntington's Disease usually strikes in the prime of a person's life and is one of the most vicious neurological conditions in existence. Little is known about the disease, and there is no cure.

Bradley was born a healthy baby. He attended high school and even competed in the state track meet. By all accounts a normal, healthy guy, but now, at 37, his life is much different.

He's wheel chair bound, unable to walk, talk or feed himself.

"Huntington's is kind of an in-the-closet kind of disease. There's never been anything you can really do for it, " said Bradley's mom, Kathy Timberlake.

The onset of Huntington's creeps in, and things start to change slowly. A person's quality of life deteriorates leaving them with little to do.

"Early, their personalities change. They get frustrated, they get angry, " said Kathy Timberlake.

 

And then the physical ailments follow shortly after.

Now Kathy Timberlake and her husband Pat are figuring out their new normal each day as Bradley's condition changes.

"It's very stressful. My new motto is change and adapt. People with Huntington's change moment by moment, and we have to adapt, " Kathy Timberlake said.

Events raising awareness are vital for the fight against Huntington's Disease. Yes, it helps raise money for research, but maybe more importantly it raises awareness and gets people talking about a disease that's been in the dark for so long.

 

"We have to make people aware that we're here. And especially in the medical community. You'd be surprised how much in the medical community people don't know about Huntington's," said Pat Timberlake.

There's no cure and only one known drug that helps treat the symptoms of Huntington's.  A spokesperson who works for the company that makes that drug says they've made lots of advancements, but unfortunately the nature of the disease is extremely complex.

"Any time you deal with the brain, the brain is the most complex organ in the body, and there's multiple chemicals in the brain and multiple areas that do different things. There's millions and millions of neuron and any time you try altar those things it's really hard to pin point certain areas. And most these diseases affect a small certain area of your brain, so finding a medication to laser in on that area is very difficult to do, " said Jayson Asher, an employee of the company that makes the drug.

So in the meantime Kathy and Pat hope to continue to raise awareness and urge the people to get informed, and shine more light on the severity of Huntington's.

Their goal is to bring a care facility that specializes in neurological disease closer to Lawton, but their only hope is to provide as comfortable a life for Bradley as they possibly can.

"We can't fix him, we can't change him, but we want to give him the quality of life. If we can't give him quantity, a long life we want it to be a quality life as much as we can, " said Kathy Timberlake.

The Timberlakes host a Huntington's support group every 1st Tuesday of the month at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lawton.

To learn more about Huntington's Disease you can visit www.hdsa.org .

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