Category Archives: Understand

Parkinson’s Disease Research: A Commentary from the Stands and the Playing Field

“You can have a very bad end with Parkinson’s, but on the other hand, you can be like me, because I’m lucky. I’m not having a bad end.” Margo MacDonald

“My age makes me think how valuable life is. How bad is something like Parkinson’s in relation to not having life at all?” Michael J. Fox

Introduction: Last month, together with Dr. Simon Stott and his team of scientists (The Science of Parkinson’s Disease), we co-published a historical timeline of Parkinson’s disease beginning with the description of the ‘shaking palsy’ from James Parkinson in 1817. My post entitled “Milestones in Parkinson’s Disease Research and Discovery” can be read here (click this link). The Science of Parkinson’s Disease post entitled “Milestones in Parkinson’s Disease Research and Discovery” can be read here (click this link).

We spent a lot of time compiling and describing what we felt were some of the most substantial findings during the past 200 years regarding Parkinson’s disease.  I learned a lot; truly amazing what has been accomplished in our understanding of  such a complex and unique disorder.  Simon posted a follow-up note entitled “Editorial: Putting 200 years into context” (click this link). I have decided to also post a commentary from the standpoint of (i) being someone with Parkinson’s and (ii) being a research scientist.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Babe Ruth

Baseball: I want to use the analogy of a baseball game to help organize my commentary. Baseball fans sit in the stands and have fun watching the game, thinking about the strategy behind the game, eating/drinking, and sharing the experience with family/friends/colleagues.   Most baseball players begin playing early in life and the ultimate achievement would be to reach the major leagues. And this would usually have taken many years of advancing through different levels of experience on the part of the ballplayer. How does how this analogy work for me in this blog? Stands: I am a person-with-Parkinson’s watching the progress to treat and/or cure this disorder. Playing field: I am a research scientist in a medical school (click here to view my training/credentials).

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”  Babe Ruth

Observation from the stands:
I am a spectator like everyone else with Parkinson’s. I read much of the literature available online.  Like you, I think about my disorder; I think about how it’s affecting me every day of my life. Yes, I want a cure for this disease.  Yes, I’m rather impatient too.  I understand the angst and anxiety out there with many of the people with Parkinson’s. In reality, I would not be writing this blog if I didn’t have Parkinson’s. Therefore, I truly sense your frustration that you feel in the presence of Parkinson’s, I do understand.  Given below are examples of various organizations and ads and billboards in support of finding a cure for Parkinson’s.  Some even suggest that a cure must come soon.   However, the rest of my post is going to be dedicated to trying to explain why it’s taking so long; why I am optimistic and positive a cure and better treatment options are going to happen.  And it is partly based on the fact that there really are some amazing people working to cure Parkinson’s and to advance our understanding of this disorder.

“When you come to a fork in the road take it.” Yogi Berra

Observations from the playing field (NIH, war on cancer, research lab, and advancing to a cure for Parkinson’s):

National Institutes of Health (NIH) and biomedical research in the USA: Part of what you have to understand, in the United States at least, is that a large portion of biomedical research is funded by the NIH (and other federally-dependent organizations), which receives a budget from Congress (and the taxpayers). What does it mean for someone with Parkinson’s compared to someone with cancer or diabetes? The amount of federal funds committed to the many diseases studied by NIH-funded-researchers are partly divvied up by the number of people affected. I have prepared a table from the NIH giving the amount of money over the past few years for the top four neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s Disease, respectively [taken from “Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories” (click here)]. And this is compared to cancer and coronary arterial disease and a few other major diseases. Without going into the private organizations that fund research, a large amount of money comes from the NIH. Unfortunately, from 2003-2015, the NIH lost >20% of its budget for funding research (due to budget cuts, sequestration, and inflationary losses; click here to read further).   Therefore,  it is not an overstatement to say getting  funded today by the NIH is fiercely competitive.  From 1986 to 2015, my lab group was supported by several NIH grants and fellowships  (and we also received funding from the American Heart Association and Komen for the Cure).

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“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” Yogi Berra

War against cancer: In 1971, Pres. Richard Nixon declared war against cancer and Congress passed the National Cancer Act.  This created a new national mandate “to support research and application of the results of research to reduce the incident, morbidity, and mortality from cancer.” Today, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the USA; however, we’ve come such a long way to improving this statistic from when the Cancer Act was initiated.

Scientifically, in the 1970’s, we were just learning about oncogenes and the whole field of molecular biology was really in its infancy. We had not even started sequencing the human genome, or even of any organism.  We discovered genes that could either promote or suppress cellular growth.   We began to delineate the whole system of cell signaling and communications with both normal and malignant cells. We now know there are certain risk factors that allow us to identify people that may have increased risk for certain cancers. Importantly,  we came to realize that not all cancers were alike,  and it offered the notion to design treatment strategies for each individual cancer.  For example,  we now have very high cure rates for childhood acute leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma and we have significantly improved survival statistics for women with breast cancer. Many might say this was a boondoggle and that we wasted billions of dollars  funding basic biomedical research on cancer; however, basic  biomedical research is expensive and translating that into clinical applications is even more expensive.  [ For a  very nice short review on cancer research please see the following article, it may be freely accessible by now: DeVita Jr, Vincent T., and Steven A. Rosenberg. “Two hundred years of cancer research.” New England Journal of Medicine 366.23 (2012): 2207-2214.]

“One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” Nolan Ryan

The biomedical research laboratory environment:  A typical laboratory group setting is depicted in the drawing below. The research lab usually consists of the lead scientist who has the idea to study a research topic, getting grants funded and in recruiting a lab group to fulfill the goals of the project.  Depending on the philosophy of the project leader the lab may resemble very much like the schematic below or may be altered to have primarily technicians or senior postdoctoral fellows working in the lab  (as two alternative formats). A big part of academic research laboratories is education and training the students and postdocs to go on to advance their own careers; then you replace the people that have left and you continue your own research.  Since forming my own lab group in 1986, I have helped train over 100 scientists in the research laboratory: 17 graduate students, 12 postdoctoral fellows, 17 medical students, and 64 undergraduates. The lab has been as large as 10 people and a small as it is currently is now with two people. People come to your lab group because they like what you’re doing scientifically and this is where they want to belong for their own further training and advancement.  This description is for an academic research  laboratory; and  I should also emphasize that many people get trained in federal government-supported organizations, private Pharma and other types of research environments that may differ in their laboratory structure and organizational format.

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“Hitting is 50% above the shoulders.” Ted Williams

 In search of the cure for Parkinson’s:    First, I understand the situation you’re in with Parkinson’s because I’m living through the same situation.   But when people find out I’m a research scientist they always wonder why aren’t we doing more to find a cure, and I  hear the sighs of frustration and I see the anxiety in their faces. Second, the previous three sections are not meant to be an excuse for why there is still no cure for Parkinson’s. It is presented in the reality of what biomedical research scientists must undergo to study a topic.  Third, the experiments that take place in basic biomedical research laboratory may happen over weeks to months if successful. Taking that laboratory data to the clinic and further takes months and years to succeed if at all.   The section on cancer reminds me a lot of where we are going with Parkinson’s and trying to advance new paradigms in the treatment and curative strategies.  Professionally, I have even decided  to pursue research funding in the area of Parkinson’s disease.   Why not spend the rest of my academic career studying my own disease; in the least I can help educate others about this disorder. Furthermore, I can assure you from my reading and meeting people over the last couple of years, there are many hundreds of scientists and clinicians throughout this world studying Parkinson’s and trying to advance our understanding and derive a cure.  I see their devotion, I see their commitment to helping cure our disorder.

The science behind Parkinson’s is quite complicated. These complications suggest that Parkinson’s may be more of a syndrome rather than a disease. Instead of a one-size-fits-all like a disease would be classified; Parkinson’s as a syndrome would be a group of symptoms which consistently occur together.  What this might imply is that some treatment strategy might work remarkably well on some patients but have no effect on others. However, without a detailed understanding and advancement of what Parkinson’s really is we will never reach the stage where we can cure this disorder.

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In a recent blog from the Science of Parkinson’s disease, Simon nicely summarized all the current research in 2017 in Parkinson’s disease (click here to read this post). To briefly summarize what he said is that there are multiple big Pharma collaborations occurring to study Parkinson’s.  There are more than 20 clinical trials currently being done in various stages of completion to prevent disease progression but also to try to cure the disorder.  From a search of the literature, there are literally hundreds of research projects going on that promise to advance our understanding of this disorder. With the last point, it still will take time to happen. Finally, I am a realist but I’m also optimistic and positive that we’re making incredible movement toward much better therapies, which will eventually lead to curative options for Parkinson’s.

And a final analogy to baseball and Parkinson’s, as Tommy Lasorda said “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”  I really want to be one of those scientists that help make it happen (or at least to help advance our understanding of the disorder).

“You can’t expect life to play fair with your heart or your brain or your health. That’s not the nature of the game we call life. You have to recognize the nature of the game and know that you can do your best to make the right choices, but life if going to do whatever the hell it pleases to you anyway. All you can control is how you react to whatever life throws at you. You can shut down or you can soar.” Holly Nicole Hoxter

Cover photo credit: PNC Park photo: i.imgur.com/32RWncK

Sign post scienceofparkinsons.com/

Chapter 8: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Mindfulness

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” Henry Miller

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Précis: The students from my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, submitted quotes about these words: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life (for further details click here). This blog post is Chapter 8 including all of their quotes about ‘mindfulness’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength); click here to read Chapter 4 (adversity); click here to read Chapter 5 (positivity); click here to read Chapter 6 (courage); click here to read Chapter 7 (persistence)].

Mindfulness and Parkinson’s: Recently, I described mindfulness (click here to read post):  “The simplest view of mindfulness is to be aware of what is happening right now, unable to change this time but to embrace the current moment. Much of our lives are led at a pace where we fret for the future, remorseful of the past, and frequently, we are oblivious to the current moment.” Life with Parkinson’s is best lived in the current moment without dwelling on the past and dreading the future.  To my thinking, this comment by Michael J. Fox is a nice description of mindfulness in the presence of Parkinson’s where he embraces (accepts) the current moment, “There’s an idea I came across a few years ago that I love. My happiness grows in direct proportion [to] my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations. That’s the key for me. If I can accept the truth of ‘This is what I’m facing — not what can I expect but what I am experiencing now’ — then I have all this freedom to do other things.” May these quotes on mindfulness allow you to focus on what’s happening right now, and they remind you to be mindful and thankful for what you have today.

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Mindfulness:  I am pleased to present Chapter 8 about mindfulness with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” William Blake

“Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world.”Amit Ray

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” Andrew Murphy

“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” Amit Ray

“Stop, breathe, look around
and embrace the miracle of each day,
the miracle of life.”
Jeffrey A. White

“So often, we become focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“How to stop time: kiss. How to travel in time: read. How to escape time: music. How to feel time: write. How to release time: breathe.” Matt Haig

“Science and mindfulness complement each other in helping people to eat well and maintain their health and well-being.” Nhat Hanh

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

“Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Not a career. Not wealth. Not intelligence. Certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.” Audrey Hepburn

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh

 “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” Kobe Bryant

“Make sure your worst enemy isn’t living between your own two ears.” Laird Hamilton

“Be gentle with yourself; you’re doing the best you can.” Unknown

“We’re all a little crazy. Some just hide it better than others.” Kermit the Frog

“We have no right to ask when a sorrow comes, ‘why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way.” Anonymous

“Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.” Catherynne M. Valente

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Dylan

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen King

“The key to creating the mental space before responding is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of being present: paying attention to and accepting what is happening in our lives. It helps us to be aware of and step away from our automatic and habitual reactions to our everyday experiences.” Elizabeth Thornton

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” Mother Teresa

 “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” Frank Zappa

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” Sylvia Boorstein

“There is plenty of time, but each moment counts.”  Billy Graham

 “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When things are going well, be mindful of adversity.
When prosperous, be mindful of poverty.
When loved, be mindful of thoughtfulness.
When respected, be mindful of humility.”
Buddha

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” James Baraz 

Cover photo credit: http://www.wallpapers13.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Coast-beach-spring-flowers-HD-wallpaper.jpg

Mindfulness images: http://ritaharvey.counselling.co.uk/_sitedata/1398682330%206ZngCeReO/today.png; http://rootedreveries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Mindfulness-quote.jpg; http://www.verybestquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Mindfulness-quotes-acceptance-joy-peace-and-love.-Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Quotes.jpg; http://static.oprah.com/images/201204/orig/quotes-thich-nhat-hanh-06-600×411.jpg.

 

 

Chapter 4: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Adversity

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” Joseph Campbell 

Précis: The students from my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, submitted quotes about these words: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life (for further details click here). This blog post is Chapter 4 including all of their quotes about ‘adversity’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength)].

Adversity and Parkinson’s: Merriam-Webster defines adversity as  a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune; adversity certainly comes with Parkinson’s. Most people do not have Parkinson’s yet we typically all have had some kind of adversity in our lives. How we deal with adversity and how we recover from adversity can certainly help define our lives. May these quotes on adversity enable you to withstand the daily annoyances from Parkinson’s and may they help others in the midst of adversity.

Adversity:  I am pleased to present Chapter 4 about adversity with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” -Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” -Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

“Success is never so interesting as struggle- not even to the successful” Willa Cather

“Adversity introduces a man to himself” Albert Einstein

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou

“Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” Aristotle

“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.”  Terry Goodkind

 “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” The Emperor Mulan

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” C.S. Lewis

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” Sigmund Freud

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” Helen Keller

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” The Old Astronomer and His Pupil by Sarah William

“Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” Stephanie Bennett-Henry

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it.” Lou Holtz

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” “The Imitation Game”

“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.”  Unknown

“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”  William J. Clinton 

“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Kahlil Gibran

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

“Everyone wants happiness; no one wants pain. But you can’t make a rainbow without a little rain.” Anonymous

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” Victor Hugo

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” Milton Berle

“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.” Edgar Allan Poe

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Thomas Fuller

 “The next time you face difficulty, or even if you just need a reminder of who you are, go outside on a clear night, look up at the stars, and think of how great it is that of all the places in the universe, you are right where you are. And as you’re looking up, put your hand on your heart and know that no one else, *no one*, has your particular purpose or opportunities.” (from a dear friend, Randy Mullis)

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” Mulan

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” Horace

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” Eckhart Tolle

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” William Shakespeare

“Adversity is the diamond-dust that the universe uses to polish its brightest stars.” Thomas Carlyle

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” Sadness, Inside Out

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Cover photo credit: http://www.beaconhouseinnb-b.com/wp-content/uploads/dawn-at-spring-lake-beach-bill-mckim.jpg

Life Happens: Believe, Accept, and Understand

“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.” Paulo Coelho

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” Marie Curie

Believe in yourself, as you live with/through ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I believe that staying hopeful allows me to better understand my Parkinson’s.
I believe that being persistent will help me resist progression of my disorder.
I believe that remaining positive is life re-affirming.
I believe that having strength/courage enables me to live-forward.
I believe that self-pity fuels the fire of my Parkinson’s.
I believe in the power of education.
And I believe in the amazing support of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” William James

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”  Christian D. Larson

Accept the cards you are dealt, but you decide how to play the hand with ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I accept my Parkinson’s, but I refuse to let it define me.
I accept that my future days will range from great to not-so-great, yet I won’t make excuses.
I accept my future life and will use my educational credentials to inform others about Parkinson’s.
I accept the challenge of living with the insidious Parkinson’s, and its subtle evolving manner.
I accept that my life, work, and leisure time will remain focused for years to come with my disorder in the background.
And I accept and acknowledge the wonderful encouragement of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“You have to accept the storms and the rainy days and the things in life that you sometimes don’t want to face.” Bai Ling

“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”  Les Brown

Understand that your life may be challenged by obstacles like ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]; however, it’s still your life to lead:
I understand my journey ahead; although I may stumble occasionally, I will get up and keep going-working-living.
I understand my future involves listening to many different experts; using, learning, and embracing their advice.
I understand my biggest ally is me; and my ability to balance and manage life minute-to-minute, day-by-day.
I understand my success in mastering my Parkinson’s will require constant effort because it will never ever take-a-day-off.
I understand my future is full of life and wholeheartedness; by staying involved, I can try to handle the advancing subtle adversity.
I understand that I must stay educated/informed of advances on neurodegenerative disorders; I am convinced that better therapies and cures are coming.
And I understand the strength of constant help from my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” Gail Devers

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

“People fear what they do not understand.” A.J. Darkholme

Life Happens- Believe, Accept, and Understand: The path our lives take are all different/varied; how we accomplish the journey is how our lives live out. At times, life is figuring out how to hit the best curve ball pitcher in baseball.  Whether we hit or miss the pitched ball, life happens; and it can be easy/hard, simple/complicated, happy/sad, successful/unsuccessful, and healthy/sick.

We must believe we have all the ingredients available to overcome the challenges in our lives.  We must accept that obstacles may exist; but like any speed breaker, the road of life will (hopefully) smooth out just ahead. We must understand that our lives can remain full while we deal with adversity; remember the sun usually follows the summer’s afternoon thunderstorm.

And don’t forget to thank and acknowledge those along the way in your journey, including your family/loved-ones, friends, and colleagues (for me I add students and health-care team). Stay hopeful, positive, persistent, strong/courageous, educated, happy, and loving while your life happens.

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