CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

July 2017 - Susan Mollohan, Team Medtronic

I was diagnosed with PD in 2009; and in the weeks and months that followed my diagnosis I learned more about PD – an incurable, progressive, neurological disease. PD changed my life in so many ways that I eventually had to leave my job as a high school administrator: I couldn't keep up with the students as they rushed through the hallways and I was frequently tripping on the stairs at school.  In July of 2016 I underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery and, thanks to Medtronic’s device, I have regained some activities that were part of my life before Parkinson’s, like skiing.  

So much good has come from my PD, including the opportunity to be part of Team Medtronic during the 2017 Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City.

Although this was my first Unity Walk – it certainly won’t be my last. There were several things about the Walk that impressed me: first, the Walk was very well organized - checking in at the registration table was a piece of cake! Volunteers and staff were always nearby to answer questions. The second thing that struck me were the many information tents set up by pharmaceutical, hospital, medical device and other health-related companies.

But what impressed me the most were those people living with Parkinson's disease who came out and walked in the rain. Their presence was a sign of hope that there will be a procedure approved or the perfect drug or device discovered that will cure this awful disease.

One of the highlights from the Walk was the chance to meet Muhammad Ali's daughter, May May Ali. I was truly moved by our brief encounter.  She spoke of something you rarely hear one speak of about PD — being aware of talking over Parkinson's patients. Most PD patients’ voices get softer, so we are often not heard and not included in conversation. It happens to me all the time.

When I am asked about myself, who I am, I often speak of being a high school administrator, a job I once loved but left because of Parkinson’s disease. The job that once defined me no longer fits with who I am today. One must have optimism to move toward a new life — a life that can evolve despite this debilitating disease. Optimism is what I saw in these people with PD on April 22nd. Their lives are filled with hope and with stick-to-itiveness. I don't think I saw a single Parkinson's person who didn't have a smile on his or her face when they have every right not to smile.

Susan Mollohan
Team Member, Team Medtronic