Talking about the unfashionable

Phoebes Garland is a Features Writer for Exposed Online & co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion with Robert Garland, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. Phoebes also owns Fashion Initiative, an online fashion destination covering business of fashion, luxury and events.
Phoebes-230 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every day in Australia. In 2013, my husband Rob was one of them.

It’s been an emotional two years for my family. When we were first told of the diagnosis, I was in tears for days. It started with a tremor in his hand when he put it on the steering wheel while dropping our little girl to school. He hid the tremors for several months from me. When he did finally go to the specialist, the doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson’s Disease straight away. Now the tremors had an explanation.

It is no easier to discuss those events with the passing of time. I still become emotional and teary talking about it for some unexplained strange reason, and I’m generally not one for unnecessary tears. To the outside world, especially through social media, it might appear that we don’t have a care in the world. We attend industry events, we travel, occasionally we might have some nice perks with the job, but we are also working harder than ever because we have to. In the back of my mind, there is always the unknown of Parkinson’s Disease and how it will impact my family for the future.

The first specialist we saw said Parkinson’s could wipe five years from his life, a frightening prospect for a then-61-year old man to be told. Not to mention a man who needs to work. Our daughter, was 9 at the time and we were both devastated. In every other way he is in excellent health.


The diagnosis has really affected me; to have anything happen to him is unthinkable. Rob has worked in the Australian fashion industry for over 40 years and is a man who is well liked for his diplomatic, easy-going nature. He is a man, which the word ‘ego’ does not apply. While I may be the face of our company, he is the quiet achiever who remembers our daughter’s play dates, school dates, school activities and also works like a Trojan behind the scenes to make Garland & Garland a strong business. I can’t imagine running this business alone. He can sew and iron leaving most housewives for dead. But he is also a man who loves his football, loves his meat and complains about being the only man at a function, so he can have a fellow male to talk about sport.

He is solid, strong and doesn’t flinch when things get tough. But what I love most about him is that he is fiercely loyal to me and puts up with me, and all that I throw at him and loves me despite all my faults.

p3To date, Rob remains in the early stages of the disease and while his specialist is happy with how he is tracking, the future is unknown. It isn’t a death sentence, but the symptoms can be tough and it can shorten lives. The medications have barely made any difference. The tremor is hardly noticeable most of the time, but it is triggered by stress and strangely it can have a mind of its own, including when he is relaxing at the end of the day watching TV. It also affects his enjoyment of seeing his beloved Hawthorn play live, with the excitement and anxiety of watching a nail biting game exacerbating the tremors. Now he thinks twice about attending a game live. Those that know him know Hawthorn is his obsession. To me I find this heartbreaking: why should he be robbed of a simple enjoyment of one his favourite activities in public with others?

Make no mistake – my husband is no victim. He is a fighter and doesn’t complain. He takes medication and goes to PD Warrior, (a specialized exercise regime run by physiotherapists targeting the symptoms and treatment of Parkinson’s disease to prevent it from getting worse).

He is striving to delay the impact of Parkinson’s and preserve his quality of life. This includes managing the visible signs of Parkinson’s progression, some which can be socially uncomfortable for him. The stigma, which comes with Parkinson’s Disease, is real for sufferers.

At the time of Rob’s diagnosis I had almost no knowledge of the disease, aside from actor Michael J Fox having it as well.  So I hit the web and researched it as much as possible. I spent hours understanding the disease, grabbing any bit of hope for treatment or a cure I could. I was so impressed with the Michael J Fox Foundation and their tireless effort to find a cure, and gratified to learn that 93% of funds raised go to research to find a cure.  p4

Through further research, I learned the Shake It Up Foundation dedicates 100% of donations to research thanks to the generosity of its founder Clyde Campbell who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 44. Clyde Campbell states this of the Foundation:

“We are in business to go out of business. To find a cure.” 

With Shake It Up partnering with the Michael J Fox Foundation the chances of finding a cure are amplified. To suffers and families this brings us great hope.

In March this year, I was honoured to be asked to be an ambassador for “Pause 4 Parkinson’s Day” (World’s Parkinson’s Day), and I am proud to have been asked by Shake it Up to be a more long term ambassador representing the face of the fashion industry for Shake it up Australia. I can tell you this, there is nothing fashionable about Parkinson’s.

I hope you will join us in our fight to find a cure. I urge you to give generously if you can, get involved, share this article to raise awareness and to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. By donating to Shake it up, 100% of the proceeds go directly into research in Australia with donations over $2.00 tax deductible.

Parkinson’s Disease is not just an old man’s disease, it affects 100,000 Australians and my family is one of them.

Visit shakeitup.org.au to make a donation or to get involved in fundraising.

About the Author:

Phoebes Garland is a Features Writer for Exposed Online & co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion with Robert Garland, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. Phoebes also owns Fashion Initiative, an online fashion destination covering business of fashion, luxury and events.

 Phobes GarlandDescribed as a” Power Agent” by Ragtrader Magazine. Between the two of them, Phoebes & Robert Garland have over 50 years sales experience in fashion, publishing and advertising.  Phoebes is on the Advisory Board for Fashion Design Studio (Sydney Tafe) in 2015 and is an industry mentor to designers with industry body Australian Fashion Chamber. Garland & Garland Fashion is a respected leading boutique fashion agency based in Sydney and they are regularly sought for comment from various media and the fashion industry on business fashion topics, fashion and issues. Visit: Garlands.com.au

Follow: Phoebes Garland on the following Social Media


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