Bravely Battles Parkinson's

Philip Smith, Enquire 2000’s

HOLLYWOOD legend Deborah Kerr is making tremendous progress in her bat­tle with Parkinson’s disease -thanks to wonderful ENQUIRER readers.

Back in the spring of 2000, we broke the news that the beloved actress was fighting the same nightmare illness that afflicts Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali and the pope. Our warmhearted family of readers responded with a tremendous outpouring of cards, letters, love and prayers. The heartfelt con­cern and a remarkable drug have given a tremendous boost to the 81-year-old un­forgettable starof”TheKing and I” and “From Here to Eternity!’

“Deborah has gotten a good many letters from ENQUIRER readers, wish­ing her well, and that’s cheered her up enormously,” revealed Peter Vertel, fier devoted husband of 40years. “Would you please tell your readers that my wife is unable to respond to them, but she wants them to know how much she values their support. It’s meant a great deal to her.”

Deborah is being treated with a powerful drug called levodopa. “She’s shown some remarkable improvement in the last year -thanks to that drug and the letters of support she’s gotten from ENQUIRER readers;’ Peter, who lives with Deborah in Klosters, Switzerland, told TheENQUIRER in an exclusive interview.

Back in 2000, the ac­claimed star was mostly confinedto a wheelchair and suffering tremors, DEBORAH earned an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement which made her life ex

tremely difficult. She wasn’t able to leave her apartment and needed a live-in nurse to help hereatandget dressed. “At first, things were quite bleak,” admits Peter, 82. “We were all devastated when we learned she had this terrible disease. Then, as it progressed, the trembling .became verybadand she became very weak. She had no strength at all and wasn’t very alert.”

Doctors eventually prescribed the levodopa, which helps restore muscle control. “It isn’t a new drug. It’s been around for about 20 years -but the problem at first was finding the right dosage,” revealed her husband. “Unfortunately, if you take too much you can develop some serious side effects, like nausea and vomiting, ‘abouta yearago, the doc­tors were finally able to find the right dosage, and since then she’s shown some remarkable improvement. The trembling has all but gone, thank goodness, and she is now able to do a lot of the things she wasn’t able to do before.

“Deborah still needs a nurse, but she’s able to get out of the apartment and go for a walk. She’s a lot more alert now, which is a real blessing. It enables her to enjoy her life much more. She’s not in any pain, so she’s not suffering. “The outlook is so much better now. The doctors say you can live a long, long time with Parkinson’s.”

Deborah -who receiveda Lifetime Achievement Award atthe1994 Academy Awards -has shown remarkable fortitude in her battle with Parkinson’s, reveals Peter. “She never complained -no matter how bad things got. She always puts on a brave face, and if you ask her how she’s doing, she al ways says: ‘I’m fine.’ “She is a very strong; courageous woman.”

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