CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

March 2013 - We Walk for Mo


People told me that I would find love again. I did not believe them. I was thrilled when I met and fell in love with a 49 year old tall good looking attorney named Maurice Miller with the ability to sympathize, empathize and make me supremely happy. Between the two of us, we had five children, all grown with lives of their own. After four years, we decided to get married in 2006. A big step. Life couldn't have been more fulfilling. 

Then, one evening four months after we had gotten married, I noticed his arm resting on the pillow. His fingers had a tremor. Having heard about my paternal grandmother’s Parkinson's disease all my life, I felt a jolt to my mind and immediately said to him, you have Parkinson's. He scoffed at my statement but several neurologists later, the diagnosis was made. Here is the odd part. My brother had just been diagnosed with bladder cancer which would prove to be fatal. Somehow, Parkinson's disease in its early stages didn't seem that bad. Compared to cancer, PD seemed like a walk in the park. My brave husband, who had been experiencing other symptoms that he had not complained about (slowness, stiffness, muscle cramps, handwriting and voice changes) quietly accepted his diagnosis and supported my brother and the family through my brother’s illness and subsequent death two years later. Maurice rarely talked about his PD with others. It was his silent struggle and no one really focused on him. As for me, I did my research on the internet, and read many articles and books. I experienced real fear about the future, worrying about the disease's progression, medication side effects and what it would mean in my life.  It was a helpless feeling. 

My husband was lucky, if you can call it that. His progression of symptoms was slow. He was also fortunate that he had a friend with PD. Marlene and Maurice shared their experiences, symptoms, medical care and physician advice. It was from Marlene that we learned about the Parkinson's Unity Walk. How marvelous we thought - a chance to raise awareness and money for “The Cause!” 

I decided to get involved. The year was 2009 and the team, We Walk For Mo was born. An e-mail was sent to our closest and dearest friends and family, and some business associates. Money was raised. A group formed. Most important of all, Maurice realized that his challenges were being recognized. People were coming together for him. I saw a change in him - a brightening of expression, an appreciation that others were supporting him, realizing that he actually had PD. He no longer had to sit quietly with his struggle. He was in the forefront and people were joining the fight. He was no longer alone. At the 2009 Unity Walk, our team numbering about twenty, proudly walked the two mile walk with Maurice smack dab in the middle of the group. He crossed the Finish line in victory with arms raised! We were all so proud.  Maurice was beaming. I felt exhilarated. I had done something. PD was the enemy and I had raised an army. Well, I wasn't retreating. I pushed on. 2010, 2011, 2012...We Walk For Mo got bigger each year.  More money was raised than the year before. Last year we raised $5000. This year we hope to raise even more. 

Maurice's symptoms have worsened. He is working part time from home; commuting to Manhattan being too much for him. Medication levels have gone up. Side effects have to be addressed and controlled. He has good days and bad days. My fears have not gone away. They are still here. But on one day each year, one day in April, there is a walk, the Parkinson's Unity Walk, and on that day, we are alive. We are exhilarated. We are special. We are supported. We are doing something. We feel the love and we feel we can conquer this challenge. We pray for medications that succeed. We pray for a cure. We go on. We go on together. We can't wait to get started for 2013. We hope to see you there. 

Nancy Isserlis
Team Captain, We Walk For Mo