Parkinson’s is personal: Olympic medalist reflects on experience with disease

For Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter Phinney, Parkinson’s is personal.

Her husband, olympic cycling medalist Davis Phinney, has been fighting the disease for 17 years.

At least 500,000 Americans are living with Parkinson’s, a neurological disease that causes tremors, speech and swallowing difficulties.

The Davis Phinney Foundation holds events and fundraisers to raise awareness and provide resources to people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. The organization’s slogan, “Every Victory Counts” aims to help those affected by the disease live well.

Phinney compared the difficulty of reaching the Olympics to living with Parkinson’s.

“Being an Olympic athlete by comparison is quite easy, much easier than living with a chronic illness, and especially a chronic illness that has no prescribed course,” Phinney said.

Phinney added how some people living with Parkinson’s can feel closeted.

“A lot of people when they’re diagnosed, they don’t come out, they don’t tell anybody, and it’s because they don’t want to be passed up for promotions at work, especially, if they are young,” Phinney said.

For Phinney, having patience and realistic expectations are key.

“I think when you lower your expectations, you always exceed them, and so you’re always happy,” Phinney said.

Laura Boyle, a Parkinson’s patient reflected on what she’s learned from the disease.

“My biggest take-away was that it’s okay to accept help, and that I need to learn to accept help,” Boyle said.

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Rachel Ravina
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