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Dr Lee Wei Ling diagnosed with rare brain disorder that does not have a cure

Her movements have become slow and hesitant, even getting up from her futon is increasingly challenging

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Singapore — Dr Lee Wei Ling, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s sister, said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Aug 8) that she had been diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that does not yet have a cure.

Dr Lee shared that she had received news that she had progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). The 65-year-old neurologist explained that it was a rather “nasty brain disease” which starts with Parkinson’s-like symptoms but gets worse to difficulty swallowing, choking aspiration, pneumonia and death — for the fortunate.

“My immediate reaction to the news was “忍” (ren), or endure in Chinese, of which the traditional character has a knife above a heart,” said Dr Lee. She noted how she would always apply ren ever since in Chinese school, “recognising that life has many unpleasant, unavoidable situations”.

“It would be nice if this entire episode turns out to be a nightmare and that I will wake up,” she admitted. However, she shared that her movements have become slow and hesitant, even getting up from her futon was increasingly challenging.

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The next question that popped into her mind was: “Why me?” Yet, the neurologist did not give voice to the question, knowing that the answer would be: “Why not?” She added that she has “had it good for too long”.

It is not known what causes this illness. In the United States, its onset is usually when the patient is in his or her 50s and 60s. Its symptoms are managed by physical, occupational and speech therapies. It takes about two to seven years from onset to passing for patients, according to neurologist Bradley Boeve of the Mayo Clinic.

Those commenting on Dr Lee’s post extended their support and best wishes as she deals with the illness.

Photo: FB screengrab / Dr Lee Wei Ling

Photo: FB screengrab / Dr Lee Wei Ling

Photo: FB screengrab / Dr Lee Wei Ling

I have been diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy.It is a rather nasty brain disease which starts with a…

Posted by Dr Lee Wei Ling on Saturday, 8 August 2020

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