Learning to Run Again - Brenda's Story

How Delay the Disease Helped Her Fight Back Against Parkinson’s

Four years ago, Barnesville, Ohio native Brenda Castle’s handwriting began to get smaller. Soon after, she started experiencing extreme fatigue. Initially, Brenda’s family physician thought the fatigue could be the result of Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. But when she mentioned that she was dragging her right foot, causing her to occasionally trip, and had noticed tremors in her right leg and arm, he immediately referred her to a neurologist.

Eight more months of tests followed until she received her official diagnosis: Parkinson’s disease. “The most difficult but also the most important thing I did after finding out I had Parkinson’s was accepting my diagnosis and educating myself about treatment options,” Brenda said. It was during the period following her diagnosis in September 2013 that she discovered the OhioHealth Delay the Disease program, a fitness program designed to empower people with Parkinson’s disease by optimizing their physical function and helping to delay the progression of symptoms. “The first class I attended was so inspiring. I sat there watching these people, who were going through a similar experience as me, do things that I thought were a part of my past life.”

Although exercise had not been a part of her routine prior to her diagnosis, Brenda ran track in high school, where she competed in the state finals for the mile, half mile and 880 relay. That first class, she saw another woman with Parkinson’s running. “I hadn’t exercised in years,” she said. “But when I saw her running like that, I just said to myself, ‘I wish I could run.’” Brenda began attending Delay the Disease classes once a week. As she got stronger, she began attending twice a week, then three. Now, she attends class four times a week. “This is a program for life. It’s been the best medicine for me and it’s empowered me to retake control of my body. I can run now,” said Brenda.

Brenda says that the realities of Parkinson’s are still with her everyday and acknowledges that the Delay the Disease program can be challenging but rewarding. “Do we break out in a sweat? Yes. Do we all have bad days? Yes. But that’s okay. The bad days are just part of the disease. We offer each other emotional support and we have fun exercising together,” she said. Delay the Disease gives her and her peers the strength and knowledge to fight back. “I’m able to do things I wasn’t able to do before. Sometimes all I can manage in a day is to shower and eat but that’s what I need to do. The exercise is hard work, but it’s my medicine. It’s allowed me to keep my independence and be grateful for the life I am living.”