My Parkinson’s story began when my mom, Sharon, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was in high school. My mom is an ongoing source of motivation and inspiration for me because of her never-ending positive attitude about living with Parkinson’s. She has taught me to ‘live in the now’ because right now, this very moment, is always something we can control. My family made our Parkinson’s journey over the past 8 years a lemons-to-lemonade story because my mom wouldn’t have it any other way.
Parkinson’s is a family disease, and it affects everyone who cares about the patient. After my mom was diagnosed, it was important for me to learn about the disease so I could help my mom with her journey. I started volunteering and meeting other Parkinson’s families. I would encourage anyone starting their own Parkinson’s journey to volunteer and become active in the fight against Parkinson’s. This will help you feel in control of your journey.
As with any diagnosis of Parkinson’s, my mom Parkinson’s has changed over the past 8 years with new symptoms becoming more visible. These changes are not frightening or scary to me because one thing has not changed — my mom’s positive attitude. My mom takes a new symptom or an off-day in stride and simply explains “I have Parkinson’s, and each day is different with this disease.”
Parkinson’s disease is tough, but people with Parkinson’s, their caregivers, and family members are even tougher.Hanzlik is a member of the National Parkinson Foundation Board of Directors and serves on the Executive Committee.
“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.”
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.