An interview with Tanya Lesstrange The Shaky Lifter on September 1, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 42, and I’m now 51 years old. My involvement in Parkinson’s awareness began to help others avoid despair and not give up after receiving my diagnosis. While I wouldn’t consider myself an advocate in the traditional sense, my goal is to demonstrate to fellow Parkinson’s patients that life remains valuable despite the challenges. I believe in making the most of the single life we have, not wasting it by dwelling on self-pity.
Please tell me a little about your background.
My passion for this cause led me to assist a Facebook support group, offering encouragement, support, and exercise tips. During the 2020 lockdown in Canada, I initiated free exercise classes for Parkinson’s patients via Zoom. Additionally, I hosted a podcast called The Parkinson’s Road Podcast. I also volunteered at the WPC in Kyoto in 2019. However, my life took a sudden turn on June 9, 2020, when I discovered my husband was having an affair. I thought Parkinson’s was tough. Since then, I have focused on trying to just be the best version of me possible.
Although my Parkinson’s has gotten worse, I am still doing quite well, and I am happy with the life that I have built for myself.
What type of goals do individuals have? with Parkinson’s awareness have when working with you?
Individuals seeking Parkinson’s awareness through my engagement generally aim to find hope, motivation, and practical guidance in managing their condition. They see me as an example of someone who doesn’t let Parkinson’s define their life negatively. They might look to me for insights on coping strategies, exercise routines, and ways to maintain a positive outlook. Ultimately, they aim to learn that life with Parkinson’s can still be fulfilling and meaningful.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s awareness?
My advocacy can have a positive impact on individuals with Parkinson’s awareness. By showcasing my journey and accomplishments despite the challenges of Parkinson’s, I inspire them to believe in their own potential. They realize that they are not alone in their struggles and that they too can pursue their passions, set goals, and overcome obstacles. Witnessing my efforts can ignite a sense of determination and resilience within them, fostering a more positive perspective on their condition.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
Looking ahead, I hope to expand my reach and continue to inspire a wider audience of individuals with Parkinson’s. I aspire to create more content that addresses various aspects of living with the condition, from practical tips to emotional support. Additionally, I aim to collaborate with other advocates and organizations to strengthen the collective efforts in raising awareness about Parkinson’s and supporting those affected by it.
What events do you participate in?
Currently I only walk the Superwalk, but I also facilitate the local support group. I have been in school for the past 12 months. Between doing schoolwork, volunteering at the suicide prevention line, working, training, and having Parkinson’s there is not a lot of time left over. I am also scheduled to have DBS on December 20th of this year.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
My advocacy indirectly supports caregivers by showcasing strategies that can help improve the overall well-being of individuals with Parkinson’s. Caregivers can learn from my experiences and insights, gaining a better understanding of how to provide effective support and encouragement. Additionally, my focus on maintaining a positive outlook can offer caregivers a glimpse into the potential for their loved ones to lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by Parkinson’s.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
To get in touch, individuals can reach out to me through my podcast, The Parkinson’s Road Podcast. They can listen to episodes that share my experiences, insights, and advice on living with Parkinson’s. While I don’t have a website, my podcast has a Facebook page, and they can message me there. It serves as a platform to connect with the Parkinson’s community and share valuable information.
How could someone get in touch with you?
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson community, what would it be?
“Live your life being your own inspiration. Be your own role model. Do the things that impress you!” This encapsulates the essence of my advocacy – encouraging individuals with Parkinson’s to take charge of their lives, set meaningful goals, and find inspiration within themselves to overcome challenges and live life to the fullest.