In a special episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, the Parkinson’s community from around the world comes together to share what they believe you should know about this disease. I also interview Matt Eagles, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was eight years old. He just helped to create and launch a new initiative called Parky Life.
In 2017, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) at 45. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know if it would kill me. I didn’t know if I was going to have to stop working or how it might impact my marriage, fatherhood or friendships. I, like most people diagnosed, knew that Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali both had Parkinson’s but other than that — nothing.
That’s why World Parkinson’s Awareness month in April and World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 are so important.
Parkinson’s is a chronic, progressive, degenerative neurological disease. It is estimated that 10 million people in the world have it. In Canada, one in every 500 people are living with the disease. Each year, another 6,600 people across the country are diagnosed.
I now know Parkinson’s will not kill me. With proper medication and exercise, I can still work — for now. My relationship with my wife, my son and friends is stronger than before. I also know each day is different, many of my symptoms are hidden from plain sight, no one knows exactly what causes it and there is no cure.
It’s been just 18 months since my diagnosis, and I continue to be amazed by the gifts Parkinson’s has given me. Don’t get me wrong, I hate this disease. I don’t want it. I wouldn’t choose it. But it’s mine and it’s not going anywhere so I figure I might as well find a way to work with it and make a difference with my life.