It’s the last day of the World Parkinson Congress and although I’m completely exhausted, my fomo is keeping me from diving into those freshly ironed linens on my hotel bed. For those who aren’t well versed in hip lingo, fomo is the fear of missing out. And let me tell you, there is no way to escape the oodles of fomo going on at the Congress. There’s not one minute when there’s nothing to do, so why take a break? Even though I can’t feel my feet anymore and my back feels like I have been carrying a hippo around the convention center, I just don’t want to miss a moment.
So when I got the chance to interview Brian Grant, (retired NBA star who at age 36 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease) I hoisted that hippo on my back and jumped at the opportunity. After retiring from a highly successful career as professional athlete, Brian Grant moved to Portland, Oregon where he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008. But that didn’t hold him down. Wanting to make an impact on those challenged by the disease, he founded “The Brian Grant Foundation” in 2010.
I had my pen in hand and paper ready to roll as I began the interview. I didn’t waste anytime…I got to the nitty gritty stuff right out of the gate.
Perky Parkie: “What has been your greatest challenge having Parkinson’s disease?”
Brian: “Knowing that no matter what I do, or how hard I work to keep the symptoms at bay, I know that there is no cure. I have also been challenged to train the right way to have a better quality of life, but I know what can happen if I don’t exercise.”
Perky Parkie: “ What keeps you going? Where do you find your strength?”
Brian: “My children keep me going. My family. I find strength in the one on one interactions I have with the Parkinson’s people I meet. I feel somewhat responsible for being up and ready to go for people, but there are times when I have a bad day. But I am not afraid to be vulnerable.”
Perky Parkie: “Knowing that exercise is such a crucial part of living healthy with Parkinson’s, but most of the fitness programs are not designed for young onset, what would you recommend for them to stay active?”
Brian: “Seek out classes that work for you. Stick with, don’t quit. I see people in my boot camp class that go every single week. After weeks of training, just seeing their progress just blows my mind.”
If you could give one message to a person diagnosed with young onset PD, what would that be?
“The diagnosis sucks. But once you find out what type of symptoms you have, you can get through it. Parkinson’s is not a death sentence. But don’t do it alone. Tell people you trust to help you get through the hard times. Life isn’t going to stop because of Parkinson’s.”
I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Brian was such a great person and it was obvious that he has a passion for helping others by sharing his story. Like I always say, there is power in sharing your journey with others. It’s the one thing that we can do to not feel so alone in this battle against Parkinson’s disease.