How are you?

Even that simple question can carry heavy implications for someone suffering from Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system, limiting motor skills.

But Wayne and Nora Lea Arcand aren't letting those limitations of Parkinson's spoil their outlook.

Nora Lea has been living with the disease for 26 years and she says she's "doing okay."

"I'm not whistling Dixie," Nora Lea said. "But okay. I'm still managing."

According to the couple, Parkinson's can be a fast-moving disease. Wayne says they've noticed changes in Nora Lea's condition over the past year, particularly in her mobility.

"She walks much slower," Wayne said, "and the timing of the pills have to be right on in order to walk. "

"And with the severe muscle spasms she gets in her legs, it makes for slow walk, or you just don't go for a walk."

Disease led to forming support group

To help themselves cope, and to provide a measure of support for others in the community who have Parkinson's, the Arcands run the Parkinson's Support Group of Sudbury. Nora Lea acts as secretary, while Wayne is the president.

The intent, Nora Lea said, is to make life more liveable.

"The support group is great to help people learn how to live well," she said. "It's not a woe-is-me support group. We have some really interesting people. It's a happy group."

Wayne said he thinks one of the reasons people don't join support groups is their fear of seeing what may lay ahead.

"I say come out to the support group, experience it, and see how well you can live with Parkinsons," he said.

"[The disease] does require that you make changes to your life and adapt, just as you would if you were growing older and your abilities diminish," Wayne said. "But if you focus on the positive, there's' a lot of things you can still do."

'What's the point of being angry?'

Nora added that she refuses to become bitter by the effects of the disease.

"We could say 'why me?' Or we could say 'why not me?' And there's a lot worse things out there," Nora Lea said.

"Everybody has something to deal with. What's the point of being angry?"

The Parkinson's Support Group of Sudbury meets every third Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at the all Nations Church.

They also will be selling fresh cut and potted tulips to raise awareness for Parkinson's on April 13 in two locations, the Hospital Cafeteria and at the Parkside Centre in the YMCA in Sudbury.