BEING diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is alarming at any time, but especially so when you're just 47 years old.
That was the scenario that confronted farmer and construction worker Rocky Sutherland in November last year.
"When I got diagnosed I felt really alone and isolated," Mr Sutherland said.
"I didn't know anyone who had it and it was such a shock I had it.
"Because of my age I just thought old people got it.
"Mentally it was really tough and I wished there was a group I could turn to."
Now due to Mr Sutherland's grit a support organisation, known as Albury Young@Park, has been formed to help those with Parkinson's who are under 65 and still in the workforce.
"The idea is to have this group tailored around young people who are active and working," he said.
It is the only group of its type between Melbourne and Canberra.
Mr Sutherland estimates more than 100 people on the Border under the age of 50 have Parkinson's and notes the disease is more common than breast or prostate cancer.
Joining him in forming the group is paving business owner Wayne Price, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's a week before his 60th birthday in March last year.
"It was like getting hit on the back of the head with a stick," Mr Price said.
The average age for diagnosis is 65 or 66, with 20 per cent being confirmed with the disease while under 50.
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Over 50 symptoms for the disease exist with lost dexterity in his left hand and a shuffling step the triggers for Mr Sutherland and an odd sensation in his toes the first sign for Mr Price.
With exercise seen as a way of slowing the progress of Parkinson's and an array of research into the cause and impact of the disease, the new group plans to have bimonthly speakers with health expertise.
"It's going to progress but you can slow down the progression and the main evidence points towards exercise, particularly aerobic exercise," Mr Sutherland said.
The Young@Park group has backing from Parkinson's NSW with Mr Sutherland having done a leadership course with the peak body.
It is open to those from across the Border and meets at Albury's SS&A Club from 6pm on the last Wednesday of the month, with the next gathering on October 30.
You can email email@example.com for more information.
"A lot of people live in hope of a cure," Mr Sutherland said.
"You're better off being proactive and trying to do something now to have as fulfilling life as you can."
Mr Price added: "You're not going to die from it, you're going to die with it."