From Stolen Dreams to accomplished ones

May 2022 Good News

Farooque Syed is a published author and passionate gang prevention expert. The youngest of five children, he grew up in a loving, caring family within the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver. Farooque was always protected and looked after by his siblings and doting parents. Reflecting on his youth, he describes himself as a model child and student, who hoped for a career in law enforcement someday. He went to school with "some of the nicest people one could meet" — who later became some of the most notorious gangsters in Canadian history.

Inspired by his own experiences of reform after life in a gang, his newly published book, Stolen Dreams, aims to help youth stay away from gangs, violence, and drugs. During the difficult journey of writing his book, Farooque had another challenge to face: a Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis.

Farooque connected with Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) to share his PD story. The following is an excerpt from a letter he wrote, addressed to the Parkinson's community, where he candidly spoke about the challenges of life with PD, and how one can still realize their dreams despite adversity:

"During my early 40s, I started to feel more tired and fatigued. As years went on, I very slowly started to get worse, but I didn't know why, and neither did the doctors. I just kept going, not thinking anything except that it was probably stress. I got to the point where it started affecting my career. I would shake and my voice got softer. I was having trouble sleeping, and people were constantly telling me to smile. I never understood this because I felt like I was smiling."

"Finally, my new doctor sent me to a neurologist, who gave me some in-office tests, got me to walk for him a bit, and then asked me to sit down. He told me I have Parkinson's disease. Boom … I had no words and couldn't speak — I couldn’t even swallow as I fought back tears. The neurologist told me he knew right away from just looking at my face. He asked me if people told me to smile more. 'Wow, he's right, I get that a lot,' I thought. That diagnosis was made just over four years ago and I am still fighting the tears as I write about hearing it for the first time. It's still very emotional. I was hurt, sad, depressed, very, very angry, and upset. How could a God I prayed to every day do this to me?"

"I started writing my book, Stolen Dreams, 17 years ago in prison, but due to some difficulties with life and health, I couldn't complete it. Finally, it's being published this year. During my writing, I would get very anxious for no reason, which in turn made me shake. I would get restless, forget my thoughts, my body would hurt badly, and I would experience fatigue."

"I knew I had to complete the book, not only for my parents, and brother who has passed on, not just for me, but for anyone and everyone who suffers from a disease like Parkinson's, so they may find some comfort knowing that it took someone 17 years of suffering and struggling to complete their dream — and so can they." [read full letter]

To learn more about Farooque and his book, please see his website