Phyllis Valentine never trained as a dancer, but she fondly remembers whirling around the room doing the polka with her father as a young girl.
She also remembers watching her father’s steady deterioration after he was found to have Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neuromuscular condition that eventually robs patients of the ability to perform even the most basic movements without great difficulty. So when, at the age of 75, Valentine received a similar diagnosis, she figured any dancing was solidly in her past.
“The doctor told me I was in the early stages,” says the former New Yorker, a petite woman with an irreverent sense of humor who lacks the tremor that is the most recognizable sign of a Parkinson’s patient. “But I was scared to death.”
About 1 million American have the disease and approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.
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By CARRIE SEIDMAN