Jody Mitchell is the daughter and granddaughter of persons with Huntington disease. For most of her life, her family avoided talking about the condition. Only recently, has that begun to change with Mitchell getting involved with the Huntington Society of Canada’s Youth Mentorship Program.

Huntington disease is a rare neurodegenerative condition that impacts a person physically and psychologically. Symptoms can appear to be erratic and troublesome for those unfamiliar with the condition and because of that, people with the condition may not want to talk about it or limit their social outings. Such behaviour can be extremely problematic and counterproductive to helping the person get the best care possible and advancing awareness of this condition.

In the video clip above, Mitchell noted that in regard to her family’s acceptance of her grandmother’s condition, “It was something you shamed and you hid. And you did not speak of.” Concerning her father, Mitchell said, “My father forbid my mother from telling the children about it,” adding that she ended up learning about his Huntington disease diagnosis after an emotional fight she had with her mother.

Mitchell, on the other hand, wants to talk about it. “I’ve had those hard talks with my family,” noted Mitchell, adding that it took some time before the family was comfortable with her talking about the condition with others.

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