Patient, Father, Athlete
Powering Forward is now my motto to help other Parkinson’s patients and caregivers live their lives to the fullest.
I have faced the challenge of Parkinson’s with the same approach as I have other challenges in my life. In my career as an NBA player, I dealt with adversity head on by educating myself about my opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and formulating an efficient way to attack. Parkinson’s has become the next opponent.
I first began experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s in 2006, my last year in the NBA, and I didn’t really think anything of it. I’d played basketball for 12 years, and my body was starting to wear out, which is normal for someone who’s played hard. I began to feel uncoordinated and developed a tremor in my wrist.
At first, my doctor told me not to worry about it, but the symptoms continued. I didn’t know what was happening, and I slipped into a deep depression that lasted for months. Afterward, I developed a tremor in my hand, and it was then that I was diagnosed.
At first, Parkinson’s seemed like a monster. It attacked different parts of me without warning, and I had no way to prepare myself. I was afraid the disease would affect my everyday life, and I wondered if I would be around to watch my kids grow. This is when working with my doctors really helped. From them I learned that I could live with this illness and create a new reality for myself. Although Parkinson’s still feels like a monster, and each day I worry which tentacle of the serpent will try to rule me, I meet it head on with exercise, nutrition, and persistence.
Three or four years ago, I decided I wanted to help others with Parkinson’s. I wanted to share what I’d learned about managing my illness through exercise and nutrition and provide opportunities for hands-on learning. Through the Brian Grant Foundation, we’ve started boot camps and wilderness retreats where people can connect with one another and learn about ways to manage their symptoms. This connection to the Parkinson’s community is probably the most important thing someone can do.
Since I was diagnosed, I’ve received the most support and help from others who also have Parkinson’s. At first, the disease frightened me because I didn’t understand it and didn’t have a plan or support network. Parkinson’s is unpredictable and has the ability to change directions at any moment, but I’ve learned I am capable of responding to each shift. With the support of my family and the Parkinson’s community, getting through the rough times is easier, and now I am chasing what I once feared.
Brian Grant, Age 44, USA
Living with Young Onset Parkinson’s