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Mansfield’s Parkinson’s spur residents to launch Duodopa for BC website

Former teacher Barry Mansfield sits in his home, behind the medication he has to take daily to treat symptoms of his advanced Parkinson
Former teacher Barry Mansfield sits in his home, behind the medication he has to take daily to treat symptoms of his advanced Parkinson's disease.
— image credit: X. Y. Zeng

When residents heard about former teacher Barry Mansfield’s challenges with Parkinson’s disease, they came together to form Duodopa for BC (duodopaforbc.ca).

B.C.’s Pharmacare does not cover the $60,000-per-year therapy, and the website wants to change that. The therapy represents the last drug that could help Barry, as he has tried everything else his doctor has recommended.

The website started when Barry’s former middle school student Danielle Keil, who currently does social media promotion for the website, got a hold of Yale resident Rudy Kehler, who developed the website. Both are doing this on a volunteer basis.

The website encourages people to write letters to three people — their MLA, the Minister of Health Terry Lake and the person in charge of Pharmacare, Barbara Walman, asking them to support public funding of the therapy.

Barry’s wife, Joan, admit they have come to their wits’ end. Barry currently has to take six drugs — multiple pills, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., every 2 1/2 hours — in hopes that they help him function.

Half of his medication — Oxycontin, Gabapentin and cannabidiol oil — help him reduce pain. Barry said he has pains in his intestines, back, shoulders and a burning sensation.

When his medicines kick in, Barry can do things such as walking. However, his medication sometimes fails to kick in due to poor absorption, and side effects from Oxycontin can make him feel worse.

Duodopa therapy injects a gel directly to the small intestine, pumping once every minute, which helps with absorption.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to give me the right kinds of drugs,” said Barry. “At the right proportion, at the right time.”

It promises to “stabilize” his life, meaning Barry would be able to make appointments, walk or go to a show without having to leave halfway because of pain.

Read the ways the Mansfields and other Hope residents have tried to help Barry in the Feb. 9 edition of The Standard.

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