I am a wife, mother, activist, author and artist. I just happen to have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998 at the age of 34. I believe that part of the reason that I am still able to be as active as I am after 15 years of living with this disease is that I don’t let it define who I am. The symptoms that bother me the most – speech impacts, and levodopa-induced involuntary movements – are the ones on which I spend the majority of my time working to educate others. That should help build Parkinson’s–friendly communities.Hunt Christensen is a member of the National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota’s Board of Directors and the Minnesota State Director for the Parkinson’s Action Network.
“My advice to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with PD is to assemble a team that can help and support you as things evolve. Continue to do the things you like, such as being with friends and going to ball games. Stay positive and have a sense of humor. Things will fall into place as you go.”
Betty Strom was never her Parkinson’s. As the disease made her world ever smaller, her courage and soul expanded. A few days before her death in 2011 at age 80, she begged to join her neighbors in a field trip to Underwater World. That was my mom.
“You have Parkinson’s.” Those are 3 words I heard more than ten years ago – three words that were not in my plan, and I am a planner. I plan the plan to plan.