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.
“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.
If you want to see Parkinson’s in a new light you only need to drive by Mike Justak’s home in Plymouth, Minnesota. He shines not one light, but more than 50,000 of them. For the holidays his home turns into what he’s dubbed “PD Shimmers,” a Christmas light show synchronized to music, in order to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
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.