Bill and Cathy stay optimistic and move forward by building their community

For Bill, it started with a tremor that was easy to ignore. But as the years went by and his symptoms began to worsen, he decided to make an appointment with a movement disorder specialist at their local hospital.

“It never occurred to me that it was Parkinson’s but…it made sense,” says Cathy, Bill’s wife of over twenty years. “He had slowed down a little bit and was having rigidity. That was a relief to get the diagnosis because then we knew what we were dealing with.”

Finding a community of hope

A retired tugboat captain and marine pilot, Bill is the kind of person who faces challenges head on. So when he got his Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis, he went to work. Bill began going to a physical therapist who specialized in PD, and they both began doing online research into the disease.

On the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA’s) website, they came across the Good Start Program, an educational program for individuals recently diagnosed with PD and their family members held at APDA’s Northwest Chapter. During the meetings, they got to hear from neurologists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals.

Bill and Cathy also participated in APDA’s Optimism Retreat, a conference focused on movement and well-being for individuals impacted by PD, and they were part of the pilot program for APDA’s Parkinson’s Roadmap for Education and Support Services (PRESSTM), an eight-week support group addressing the psychosocial needs of people newly diagnosed with PD.

Staying active and optimistic

Cathy recommends that people diagnosed with PD find a good physical therapist, make sure their neurologist is a movement disorder specialist, stay active, get enough rest, and most importantly, build a support system.

Through APDA, Bill and Cathy have had the opportunity to share their experiences in a supportive environment of people who know exactly what they’re going through.

“If you’re the care partner and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, I think it’s really important that you find somebody who you can talk to, whether it’s another care partner or a therapist or a family member or somebody,” she says.

They also take great comfort in playing with their grandchildren and staying active. Bill goes to Rock Steady Boxing three times a week, and they both go to Tai Chi for Balance and water exercise twice a week.

“The boxing class I go to is like a big support group,” explains Bill.

Working to help others with PD

Bill and Cathy also participate in APDA’s Northwest Optimism Walk, a fun event designed to raise money and awareness to help end PD. “It’s a very doable walk for all kinds of abilities,” says Cathy. “We have done it on our own and we’ve also done it as part of a team.”

They plan to participate in the Walk every year and also support special events like APDA’s Magic of Hope Gala, where, Cathy says, “we were amazed at the donors and their generosity.”

Supporters like you have a remarkable impact on the lives of people with PD. Thank you for helping Bill and Cathy continue to live life to the fullest.