The ‘Aha’ Moments That Helped Me See a Life Beyond Parkinson’s

Lori DePorter avatar

by Lori DePorter |

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Was there a moment that made you realize that you have a life beyond your Parkinson’s diagnosis? Let’s call it an “aha” moment.

Maybe you have more than one. I actually have had quite a few, but two have had a profound influence on how I decided to live my life. One was inspired by a magazine, and the other was inspired by a book. 

The first ‘aha’ moment

The first happened in February 2016, three months after my DaTscan and official diagnosis. A Neurology Now magazine arrived in the mail with former NBA star Brian Grant on the cover. Grant shared his story of being diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s. While most of the Parkinson’s publications I receive end up in the trash or at the bottom of the cupboard, I decided to read his story.

As I read, I began nodding, agreeing, and fighting back my tears. It was like reading my own story, except that I am 5 feet tall on a good day and never made it to the NBA. However, I was finally reading something positive and connecting with it.

I decided to research the Brian Grant Foundation and learned that it promotes exercise, nutrition, and community. These tools offered a way to be proactive in what was to become the fight of my life.

The first domino

The website had an option to “submit your story.” My husband, Mike, encouraged me to write mine and submit it for publication. I thought the idea was ridiculous. Who would actually be interested in a story about a stay-at-home mom with young-onset Parkinson’s? 

I wrote and rewrote it numerous times. Eventually, I was comfortable with what I had written. It was the first part of my journey with Parkinson’s as a mom, wife, daughter, and friend. I submitted it and forgot about it. Whether it was published or not, it was therapeutic and cathartic to write. However, a few weeks later, I received an email stating that my story would be published on the website.

That “aha” moment and my first published piece were the first dominos in a chain of events that has led me to being who I am today — an author, a fitness instructor, and a personal trainer. I have attended events and fundraisers with various speakers, including Brian Grant. I met him, and he graciously posed for the picture below. Yes, he is a celebrity. However, when we are all in a room, he’s just another guy with Parkinson’s — a very tall one.

Brian Grant and Lori DePorter at the License to Cure event in November 2018. (Courtesy of Shake It Off 4 PD)

The second ‘aha’ moment

The Michael J. Fox Foundation website led me to my second “aha” moment. Actually, I had a series of these moments while reading the actor’s book Lucky Man. I could not think of any reason for the title of his book. Why would someone think getting Parkinson’s was lucky?

I was skeptical, but once again I found myself nodding in agreement and fighting back tears. It truly gave me a different perspective. My diagnosis was not the end of my life. It was a restart. I may not be in the fast lane, but I am still living my life. Yes. Life is different, but it is still good. 

So, look for your “aha” moments. You may be surprised by how far you have come and how much good is in your life.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Mr. Bradley avatar

Mr. Bradley

My "aha" moment was a very basic one. I was diagnosed with PD in November 2017, with balance & muscle rigidity the main issues. In reading about the disease and how it progressed, I learned I had already permanently lost a large percentage of dopamine in my brain & it wasn't coming back. I figured the best I could do was slow the ongoing loss via medication and exercise. I started off with the lowest dosage of sinemet possible (one pill three times per day), signed up for a RSB class and rode a stationery exercise bike three times per week for 30 minutes at 70-80rpm.
OMG. Within just two weeks I could feel the difference. Balanced improved. Rhythm started to come back into formerly frozen limbs. It was amazing. It was then I realized I could produce my own dopamine! By breaking out of my former comfort zone, I wasn't just holding off the loss of dopamine, I was manufacturing even more than the disease was taking. The more I pushed the better I got. There wasn't just a fixed amount in my brain after all, like I first thought.
Three years later and there's been no looking back. Yes, I have PD but it doesn't have me. As I tell my fellow boxers in our RSB class, our goal is to die with Parkinson's, not from Parkinson's.
We have a life to live in the meantime.

Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Thank you for sharing...keep on fighting and don't look back!



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