Blake Bell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 49. He recalls that his neurologist took three minutes to examine him and delivered the words that rocked his world: “I’m sorry to say, you have Parkinson’s.”
“After the shock of the diagnosis, I went into denial,” Blake says. “I hid from the disease, trying very hard not to think about it. I told nobody other than my immediate family.” It took him years to be prepared to share his diagnosis and to start managing it head-on.
That state of uncertainty, grief, apathy or any number of emotions is not uncommon. For some, a Parkinson’s diagnosis brings a sense of relief. Finally, an explanation and a name to what they’ve been experiencing. For others, this diagnosis may bring up more questions than answers. Getting a diagnosis of Parkinson’s can be a lot to take in. Blake’s message to anyone who has experienced that three-word introduction to the disease: Whatever you are feeling with your new diagnosis– it’s important to know you are not alone.
How Parkinson Canada SuperWalk helped Blake adjust to his diagnosis
Blake, Parkinson Canada, and many who now know the importance of actively engaging with a diagnosis share a common goal: shorten the length of time it takes someone to go through the natural process of adjusting to diagnosis and start focusing on living well with Parkinson’s.
For Blake, the turn came after engaging with support resources and finding Parkinson Canada SuperWalk. “I signed up and used the walk as a way to open up to people. I shared my story on social media and was overwhelmed by the support I received,” Blake says. “It was such a relief to finally tell friends and colleagues I had Parkinson’s – like a thousand-pound weight was lifted off my chest. Best of all, it felt great to do something meaningful that would ultimately help people like me who are living with Parkinson’s.”
The ‘National Hero’ for Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, Blake shared his message beyond his network and was again overwhelmed by the response to his story. Now, he’s taking an active role in encouraging people to participate again. He’s participated in a new video series that speaks to the true spirit of the walk and will be spearheading a campaign focused on supporting Team Captains in making the walk meaningful for their family, friends and most importantly, the person living with Parkinson’s.
“I once had a job supervising major construction projects. I was responsible for every part of the project and I loved it. Then came the day I had to give it up. Parkinson’s ultimately took that from me. But there are so many good things in my life. I’m active with exercise and it keeps my body well, most days. My wife is my rock. My two adult sons call me all the time. And then there’s my five-year-old grandson – the apple of my eye. When I shake, he steadies me, literally taking my hand in his small one. And I have the community of support I’ve built through Parkinson Canada and SuperWalk.”
How joining Parkinson Canada SuperWalk can help you
Blake’s message to families that are in a similar situation as his is a simple one. Join him. Join in taking an active role in managing Parkinson’s and supporting the people around you who are adjusting to their diagnosis; and join him in supporting Parkinson Canada. Your support fuels research to find better treatments and ultimately a cure and it provides a community of hope and understanding for the 100,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s today and the 25 people who will hear “You have Parkinson’s,” tomorrow.
This year’s National walk will take place in your own local community, where you’ll Walk Your Way using the digital and physical Walk in A Box tools that were created to make your experience personal, fun and memorable. Blake will be there to provide encouragement, and to coach captains in how to make meaning of the walk, along the way.