According to Harvard Health, over 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. 60,000 Americans are diagnosed every year, or about one new diagnosis every 10 minutes! In 2019 I noticed stiffness in my left arm, especially around my elbow, and my left hand started forming a claw when relaxed. I started tremoring randomly and although it wasn't interfering with my daily activities, I sought medical attention. I ended up seeing seven different doctors, most of whom said up front, "You're too young to have Parkinson's Disease." After blood work and brain scans I finally met with a movement disorder specialist who gave me a clear diagnosis: young onset Parkinson's Disease (YOPD).
A diagnosis like PD can be overwhelming. The first place my wife and I looked for help was the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). There, we found resources that explained what to expect and strategies to deal with the disease. I learned about the importance of support and connected with a local YOPD group that kayaks, hikes, and does many other outdoor activities together on a regular basis. I received my diagnosis in February of 2020, right as the pandemic was transforming life as we know it. I learned about it the same day I accepted a new job at my company. It was a lot to absorb!
I immediately took three steps to move forward.
1. I started a blog to share my journey so I could document what I learn as I navigate the disease. You can follow my journey online at https://StrengthWithParkinsons.com. My "weakness" is my new strength!
2. I started this fundraising campaign to contribute to finding a cure. MJFF is the one organization I know of that plans to put themselves out of business by supporting researchers and accelerating progress to understand the disease and find the cure.
3. I researched everything I could about the disease. I learned that the best way scientifically proven to slow progression is regular, intense exercise. So, I exercise. Daily. Parkinson's Disease doesn't take breaks, so neither do I.
November is #movember and I am doing over 100 burpees every workout along with one-armed push-ups, one-legged squats, and many other exercises that not only help me stay fit and combat the symptoms, but also help improve my balance and reinforce the skills that PD tries to steal. There are also studies that suggest an organic, plant-based diet is optimal to slow its spread so I maintain a plant-based diet.
There have been many promising breakthroughs. There is a high likelihood that alpha synuclein protein plays a key role in the disease progression and suppressing its activity may stop PD in its tracks. There are also promising therapies that may actually restore the cells damaged by PD and reinstate the body's ability to create dopamine. It is the lack of dopamine and death of dopamine producing cells that cause PD-related symptoms.
People are surprised to learn I have PD and that my symptoms are well under control. By following the research that has been supported by organizations like MJFF, I not only managed to reduce my symptoms every follow-up I've had, I also reversed the stage of my disease. I'll take credit for the discipline and work but thank YOU for your generosity that has helped uncover the steps necessary to make a difference.
I'm doing my best to combat this disease, but I can use your help. Every dollar counts, and during this month donations are being matched. Your $1 can contribute $2 and if that doesn't seem like much, think about the thousands of people who can afford a few dollars to help move us closer to a cure. Thank you for taking the time to visit this page and learn more about my story and what you can do to help us create hope for 10 million people around the world. Your donation is incredibly valuable no matter the amount and I thank you deeply for anything you are able to do.
I'm hopeful, happy, and blessed and excited to be part of the solution and not allow PD to have the upper hand. Join me in this fight and donate what you feel is the right amount!
Diagnosed with PD at 45.