Kerryn and John Salmon: Huntington’s Disease and Physical Fitness
A lifetime of giving to the community,
By John Salmon OAM
John and Kerry Salmon OAM with their family at Government House in Sydney celebrating their order of Australia awards
John and Kerryn have been married for almost 50 years and we asked him to give us a snapshot of his life with Kerryn.
MY WIFE KERRYN SALMON OAM was diagnosed with Huntington’s in 2003 and is now 70 years old and living in a nursing home. She is way past the average life expectancy age for HD and this we believe can be due to a high level of physical fitness and a healthy diet.
I first met Kerryn, a Cooking Demonstrator at the Sydney county council when she was 20 and i fell in love with her at first sight. I found out that she was heavily into physical fitness, working out with the YWCA in Sydney and was also a schoolgirl golf champion. I was very active in both Cronulla and Wanda surf clubs and had won many surfboard paddling championships. We had a common interest in physical fitness.
Our romance blossomed and after 9 months Kerryn decided in 1971 to go overseas indefinitely.
She travelled by ship to Japan and daily spent time in the gym. She travelled across Russia on the trans-siberian railway and after almost 3 months arrived in London. As good as the travel was, she soon realised that she missed me and wanted to come home. Before doing so she did some speedy camping trips with long hours of travelling which resulted in her physical fitness deteriorating rapidly.
In November Kerryn returned home by ship with daily visits to the gym whilst onboard restored her fitness. Kerryn and I were married 6 months later and started our own family.
After Kerryn had our 2 children I suggested that she join me in the city to surf runs. This was the start of a magnificent running career for Kerryn. We teamed up to run the husband and Wife section and won it 3 times. Kerryn was 4th across the line 3 times and won her age group twice and won every fun run she entered over a 10-year period.
Kerryn’s father passed on the HD gene to her but he was misdiagnosed with manic depression. When Kerryn first started showing Huntington’s symptoms we both wondered what the hell was wrong. Ultimately diagnosis meant we could cope with the problem together. In addition to her regular running and in-house exercise she increased her golf and took a 30-minute bike ride twice a week to the gym.
John commented, “It’s our belief that a lifetime of fitness delayed her need for nursing home care by about 4 years. Although Kerryn is in a nursing home in Sydney, we still email every day and spend time together as often as possible.”