My PD Story

Troy Cook headshot
People with PD

Troy Cook

At 48 years old, I heard the words "Troy, you have Young-Onset Parkinson's Disease." It took me some time, but as a public speaker who invites audiences to define success and fulfillment on their own terms, I knew I had to figure out a way to start wrapping my personal stories of Parkinson’s into each presentation. And I did.

On July 12, 2017, I had the opportunity to look into my own life to find strength and inspiration. After more than 18 months of chronic and debilitating pain, fatigue, tremors and other symptoms, I finally had an answer: Parkinson’s. This life-altering diagnosis put my lifelong beliefs to the ultimate test.

Over the next few years, I began finding ways to get involved and build my Parkinson’s community. I became active in organizations that support those dealing with chronic and life altering health conditions, which has helped me gain perspective on my own situation. My recent activity as a Parkinson’s Foundation Heartland Chapter board member is an extension of that work.

Continuing to be a public speaker has inspired me as I am able to incorporate the learnings from my own journey and the stories of other's journeys to provide inspiration to audiences.

I’ve had time to think of advice I’d give to others who are new to Parkinson’s, including:

  • First, there is not one path in navigating this journey. Each of us must make decisions that are best for ourselves and those who are present to support us.

  • Learn as much as possible about your symptoms and characteristics that have led to your diagnosis. Because PD manifests itself in unique paths to each person, gathering as much information and perspectives is key to making wise decisions on treatment.

  • Find a care team that best aligns with your needs. Don't be scared to change that team as time evolves. Your disease will evolve, and sometimes that means changing the team members is needed.

  • Turn to the Parkinson’s Foundation. The vast amount of information, data and research findings pushed out through emails, and events has been significant in keeping me informed and hopeful.

Troy Cook public speaking

My expertise in public speaking has been acquired through years of studying, asking questions of, presenting to and consulting with audiences and groups from Fortune 500 firms to leadership conferences. These principles and traits include hitting control+alt+delete to redefine societal defaults for success; establishing and measuring goals with specific strategies; finding wisdom to overcome adversity and inevitable change.

Now, especially after releasing my first book, Change Is Inevitable, Growth is Optional, I continue to be inspired by the tremendous stories of others who have faced adverse change and find a pathway to growth. This inspiration has led me to me to participate in such experiences as running in masters track meets, fundraising for worthy causes, and speaking before audiences to share my experiences.

Everything so far has led me to my newest way to advocate for people with Parkinson’s: becoming a Parkinson’s Champion and hosting my first fundraiser. On June 8, I will be competing as a Parkinson’s Champion in the 6 in 6 Challenge. I will compete in six track and field running events on the same day in approximately six hours.

I chose the number six because every six minutes someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In the roughly six hours it takes me to complete the 6 in 6 Challenge, 60 people will learn of their new Parkinson's diagnosis.

Long before public speaking, running was always my passion. I have been active as a runner since my teenage years. I ran track, coached high school and middle school track, and ran a triathlon (which may be the next challenge.)

In my Parkinson’s experience, I challenge my body each day to get stronger and maintain strength so that I can delay the disease. But for many people with Parkinson's, simple physical activities are an extreme challenge. For those who can't challenge themselves to the level I still can, I am honored to take on a new physical challenge in their honor.

Support Troy’s Parkinson’s Champion event, 6 in 6 Challenge, or learn more about becoming a Parkinson’s Champion.

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