News

Mick Simpson hits the road for dementia awareness

By Jared Prestwidge

THE NEXT chapter in Kyabram resident Mick Simpson’s journey to raise awareness for dementia is set to be written this November.

Affectionally known as Mick’s Memory Walk, Mick will be hitting the road for the second year in a row – this time travelling from Cobram all the way to Kyabram.

Diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in November 2018 at just 62, he has been staring down a disease that has no cure, no treatment and no way forward.

Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s.

Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

Doctors don’t know how significantly the disease has developed, with the only way to accurately diagnose its severity a post-mortem examination.

Despite seeing his own health continue to decline over the past year-and-a-half, Mick said his main priority was to get the word out and help ensure those unwilling to get tested took that next step.

“I just want to bring awareness, not just to Lewy body, but the whole dementia situation,” he said.

“There are 460,000 people in Australia now with diagnosed dementia but there is a hell of a lot out there that have been to their GP but haven’t taken it any further.

“People are frightened to go to the professionals and get the diagnosis finalised. They don’t want to talk about it.

“People are frightened of what the end result will be. It’s also very frustrating for the people around them.”

Through the first memory walk held in June 2019, Mick travelled from Echuca to Kyabram and raised $5000 for Dementia Australia.

This year, he has doubled the distance as well as the funds target.

“I think last year it was the shock of being diagnosed and I wanted to do something about it,” he said.

“It got people talking and that’s what it’s all about . . . last year we did Echuca to Kyabram over two days, but this is over five days and 90km.”

Mick’s Memory Walk, the 2020 edition, will see participants go from Cobram to Strathmerton to Nathalia then to Wyuna, before finishing up in Kyabram.

Mick said while he was proud of what he had accomplished with last year’s walk, this year would run much smoother and have more organisations involved – including Dementia Australia and VICSES.

“All of the towns that are involved have really got on board with us and it’s been really great so far. We’ve just got to tie a few loose ends around here and it should be good to go,” he said.

Mick said his health had noticeably declined over the past 12 months.

“It changes day by day, but a few of the family faces are disappearing and some friends’ faces are disappearing. Diaries, phone notes and GPS are the go now,” he said.

“You wake up in the morning and walk out to do something and you find yourself doing something different . . . sometimes it’s a bit frustrating.

“It’s just part of it and if I can help someone else out, then I’ve got to do it, simple as that.

“There are a lot of people out there worse off than me and we’ve just got to bring more people into it and get it out there. It’s not only other diseases like cancer that need help, but the people with dementia need help as well.”

And in order to provide that help, Mick is asking the community to take part and spread the message.

“Come along and join us. I don’t care if people only want to walk a simple kilometre. . . just help us get the word out there,” Mick said.

“It’s not a race, it’s a walk. Plus, I might need someone to hold me up once I finish the 90km.”

Mick’s Memory Walk will run from November 9 to November 13, 2020.

For more information or to donate, visit personalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/Michael-66776454 or contact Mick on 0473 470 616

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