Blake was 50 years of age when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At first he reacted like many — experiencing denial and withdrawal. He also suffered from depression, a common symptom of Parkinson’s. That was a decade ago. Over the last 10 years he has rebuilt his life: he started a construction estimating company and went back to work part-time. He also revived his social life. Bell even began exercising, taking up boxing with others. He says it helps relieve his symptoms and provides him with peer support.
“I can hardly hold a screwdriver now, where before I used to swing a hammer like it was nothing,” Bell says of the impact of Parkinson’s on his life. “And it’s hard to multi-task; your brain doesn’t work that way anymore.”
Fearing the stigma of the disease, Bell had a hard time explaining to people why he was shaking, or why he might be slower and unable to do the things he used to do so easily. It took years before he decided to share his diagnosis widely with others. But two years ago, he decided to let everyone know. “It’s hard to explain, I just knew it was time — it felt right.”
Bell posted his news on Facebook in 2015 and was joined by 25 friends supporting him in Parkinson SuperWalk 2016. He attributes part of his healing journey to participating in the walk. Voted the event’s first “National Hero,” he cried when he read some of his nomination letters.
“You don’t realize the impact you can have, just by being yourself,” he says.
You can watch Blake’s story here. Blake says he’d like a cure for Parkinson’s tomorrow. “Not necessarily for me, but for people who are just getting it. It would be wonderful.”
In the meantime, Blake calls on you and everyone for understanding, for those dealing with a chronic disease or disability. “I want people to treat other people, the way I treat them. That’s all I want.”
You can join Blake by becoming an everyday hero, inspiring extraordinary hope for Canadians living with and affected by Parkinson’s disease. Register online today at www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca or by calling 1-800-565-3000.