CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

May 2017 - Team Hot Hot Hot

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002. He was 50 years old. It was late on a school night when my mother called my older sister and me into our parents’ bedroom to tell us the details of our father’s diagnosis. My younger sister—only six years old at the time—was not invited in.

This was not the first time Parkinson’s had struck our family. Our Safta Sara, our father’s mother, had been diagnosed with the disease ten years prior. Happy memories of my Safta Sara are few and far between. Therefore, I’ve held onto a very distant memory of a day we spent together at the pool. Singing a happy tune and navigating through the water as I sat atop an orange floatie, she offered the comfort that only a grandmother could provide.

The memory of the day at the pool came rushing back to me as I sat motionless on the floor of my parents’ bedroom.

“Your father is in the early stages right now. I know you are probably thinking of your Safta, and how sick she is, but we are staying strong and positive and we don’t want you to worry. If you have questions, please ask us, but don’t be scared or sad for your father. That is the last thing he wants.”

My father did not see himself as a victim and he would not let anyone else see him as one, either. My father would use his strength as a means to remain positive and challenge his predicament. He would take advantage of this beautiful life, and give it all he has. And for years, he defied the countless odds stacked against him.

It was not until 2015 that I realized how much worse my father’s condition had truly gotten. After a tumultuous year in NYC, I decided to move back home. With my mother working a full-time job and little sister recently off to college, I was able to spend more one-on-one time with my father than I had in a long time. However, it soon became apparent that my father was not who he once was, and it was heartbreaking.

In addition to physical handicaps, which were now more obvious, my father exhibited various non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Namely, he was easily angered and agitated. Menial frustrations were blown way out of proportion and minor disagreements turned to screaming matches. Just a few months ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease dementia.

In 2015, my sister and I found out about the Unity Walk through a post on Facebook, and we knew right away that we had to be involved. Three years and three walks later, the Parkinson’s Unity Walk has become tradition for my family. Each year, my parents, sisters, and I are able to share our story, inspiring others and being inspired by them in return, as we march together in Central Park in defiance of the unbeatable odds.

Thank you to all those who came out this year in support. It’s people like you that make miracles happen.

Talia Aroshas
Team Member, Team Hot Hot Hot