Oct 19, 2014

'Screw you Parkinson's' cause I just ran my first 5K race!!!

Today was 16 months from when I got sick (although in hindsight years since my first PD symptoms began), 6 months since I first heard the scary words 'Parkinson's Disease', 5 months since I started PD treatment and 1 month to the day from when I was officially diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease.... AND...  I just ran my first 5 km race in the PEI Marathon this morning!!!  Not only did I run a 5K but I did it in 36:55 which was 7:05 faster than my goal!  I did it while wearing a custom made shirt by the amazing people at COWS Inc. where I was working before I got sick that said my motto "Screw You Parkinson's"!
I can honestly say that aside from my kids being born this was my next greatest accomplishment!  That might sound like I'm making too big of a deal out of it not like I ran a marathon or even a half, but for me, for this body of mine, for the struggles I deal with daily this was HUGE.  I am beyond proud of myself for it.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done and it was by no means easy, but I did it & it was incredible! 
I had 3 amazing women run with me today, all of which have been or currently are runners and likely could have done this easier and faster but chose to stick by my side and encourage me to keep going when I thought I was done.  Words would never be able to express just how grateful I am for that, how much it helped me and what it meant to me.  One of my best friends Lorena has been and is by far one of my biggest supporters in more ways than one and one of my biggest cheerleaders too.  She encouraged me to register for this race and had complete faith and confidence in my ability to pull it off even when I doubted myself.  She is amazing and I am so lucky to have her in my life!

 She even made sure she had the same shirt made for today to run by my side!
There were also two other ladies, Aliceann & Dawn who are dear friends to her and before today acquaintances of mine who chose to run with us.  They did not have to, but they did, wanted to and I am in awe that they were there for me.  This journey of mine keeps giving me so many unexpected surprises and beautiful gifts like this one, gifts I would have never had the pleasure of receiving if it weren't for Parkinson's.  So despite the struggles there are many wonderful things presenting in my life because of it and one has to feel a sense of gratitude for them even if it means I have PD.  In a strange way I'm thankful for it because it's blessed me in many ways already.

So grateful for these 3 ladies!
Today's experience was extremely emotional for me aside from how physically challenging it was.  I was a basket of nerves every time I thought of it this week.  Not because I didn't think I'd finish, I knew I would finish even if it meant walking the entire 5K.  But scary because I didn't know how my body would respond.  After all the 2.5k mark is usually where my body starts to give in.  3.2K was the farthest I'd ever run (at the Parkinson's SuperWalk).  So getting to the 5 kilometer mark was terrifying to me.  I had countless messages leading up to this morning by text, facebook posts, emails from so many people with words of encouragement and support.  Beautiful things said that made me feel special and in awe that so many people had so much confidence in me when I didn't necessarily have it myself.  To all of you that took the time to tell me those things, please know you were a HUGE part of today.  I held onto those words and used them to keep going.  I am so grateful for all the caring cheerleaders I have both near and far and it truly does mean the world to me.   When I woke this morning I felt nervous but was thankful as I had gotten some sleep last night which doesn't always happen.  I was stiff and shaky which I am always worse first thing in the morning until my meds kick in.  I held off as long as I possibly could before taking them because I knew if I didn't they would be wearing off by the time I was due to run, or half way through.  Once it was getting close to 8am I took it knowing my first dose usually takes the longest to work (45 minutes to an hour average).  When I met up with the girls and we got to where the Marathon was starting I thought I was going to puke!  But then about 10 minutes before the start they kicked in and my body started to feel a bit better and the shaking eased.  I suddenly looked around to literally hundreds and hundreds of people with different colored bibs ready to run.  5K, 10K & half marathoners (those people amaze me).  The full marathon runners started at a different location.  Well seeing the crowd was just like everyone said, exhilarating!  So when the time came I was pumped and ready to go!
The first couple km's went well.  I tried to do my usual run a km and then walk a minute as I know my body can't do the full amount running.  After the first km I realized I had done it faster than I typically do, no doubt from the excitement of all the runners around me.  But it also worried me a bit that I started too fast.  But I kept on, the girls stopping to walk when I did telling me I was doing great and encouraging me.  By the time I hit 3.5K I was most definitely running out of steam.  I had already gone farther running than I had ever done before and the thought of another 1.5K was terrifying to me.  When 4 hit I had both a sense of excitement that I was almost done but fear because I was now shaking like a mad woman and was struggling.  The girls were wonderful, that last K I had to stop several times for a little walk or I knew I wasn't going to make it.  They kept encouraging me telling me we were ahead of schedule that I was doing great and their words were heartwarming for me and gave me the push I needed.  When we finally hit the corner of University Avenue and took the turn, you could see all the spectators, hear the cheering AND most importantly see the finish line.  Tears started to stream down my face as Lorena said "See it, it's right there".  Then they all said to me "Don't cry yet!!!".  So I shook my head wiped the tears and made myself stop.  Coming into the finish line was a bit of a blurr, I remember looking for Aaron & the girls but at the same time not really seeing anything.  I did catch them right near the finish and apparently there were some other supporters there I didn't even notice.  As I crossed the finish line they put the medal around my neck and I bent over exhausted and excited and in awe all at once.  I did it!  'Screw You Parkinson's, cause I just did it!!!'

 A sea of runners!
Incredible thing to be a part of!
I then was greeted with congratulations by my girls and their signs with kisses from them and my amazing husband who sticks with me no matter what and hugs from my biggest cheerleader since I can remember, my sister!  As well as my friend Donelda & Lorena's parents & kids.  Another huge cheerleader of mine Angie & her sweet girl Abigail where there with a big sign for me too, but in the excitement I didn't see them.  But the whole experience, well, It was Incredible!  Holy crap I just ran 5K in what I knew was faster than my 44 minute goal but still had to wait for the official time and I did it despite my screwed up body!!!  Wooohooooo!!!


As we ventured off into the tent where there were some snacks to refuel, I tried to grab a piece of banana.  Shaking so badly I couldn't unpeel it, so Lorena did it for me.  Then when I went to grab it I couldn't and had to use my left hand.  The poor volunteer behind the table looked at me very concerned and said "Are you ok dear, do you need to sit?" to which I didn't even have time to answer cause Lorena promptly said to her "She's fine, read her shirt"  Ha! Ha!  Took the lady a second and I think another volunteer actually said into her ear 'she has Parkinsons'.  It made me laugh, particularly at Lorena's quick response and pride in what I'd just done!  Another volunteer spotted the tattoo's on my back, the portraits of my girls when they were each 6 months old, took a picture of them and one of my shirt!  It was awesome!  Then the results came in..... Oh the anticipation.... Lorena and I went to the wall to search for our numbers and there was my name.... Natasha McCarthy #4081, Mount Albion..... 36:55!!!  WOW... Lorena gave me a giant and loud high five, then hugged me and said "didn't I tell you, you could do it?" and then I cried, again....
So very exciting!  It was by far one of the best days I've ever had.  Not one of the easiest but one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever done.  I am so grateful now that when January of 2014 hit I forced myself to stop feeling sorry for myself and lazing around scared about what was wrong with me and got off my ass and started moving again.  That I was determined to lose that 25 pounds I gained and keep my legs from getting as bad as my upper body, particularly right arm had become.  Since then I have been determined to not get worse.  Since first hearing those words Parkinson's I decided I would do what I needed to do to fight this.  And that's what I've been doing.  I've had to give up a lot of things in order to stay active and continue to be the best Mom I can be to my girls, but it's helping me not get worse.  Since I was officially told I had PD I have vowed that since regular exercise is the ONLY thing in my control to try and slow progression of this disease since there are no treatments yet for it that this is what I have to and will do.  I will not let it get me without a fight and I will not give up.  I will stay strong as long as I possibly can and do what I need to do to slow it from getting worse.  And because of so many supporters and encouragement from friends & family I am able to do this....
Today was AWESOME!
"Screw you Parkinson's, cause I just ran my FIRST 5K"!!!


  1. Natasha, congratulations and you are correct, exercise is one of the most important things to do to slow the progression of this disease. From all of us with PD we are so very proud of you! Irene, PD support group.