NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Imagine running through 44 countries in four weeks and four days. Now, imagine running it with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. While a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.
It is estimated over five million people live with Parkinson’s disease world-wide and many do not have access to the medicine that makes the symptoms of the disorder manageable.
Col. Marcus Cranston, 99th Medical Group director of medical education endocrinology and preventive medicine, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010 at the age of 44.
Since being diagnosed with the disease, Cranston has been planning to “Run-the-World 4 Parkinson’s disease.” His goal during the run is to help tell the story of those affected by Parkinson’s disease worldwide through social media.
“The disease threatened to take away my two favorite hobbies, sports and travel. [It] has given me a cause toward which to apply my experience and interest in medicine and humanitarian relief,” Cranston said. “My interest in Parkinson’s disease awareness and fundraising is an extension of my general interest in international humanitarian efforts.”
After completing his goal of “Run-the-World 4 Parkinson’s disease,” Cranston spoke about his experiences completing his final run in Las Vegas.
“First of all, I was running for myself. When I first started, I wanted to do something to challenge myself, but almost a year before I started the challenge it became something I was doing for other people with Parkinson’s to raise awareness for people and families,” Cranston said. “More so for the general society so it makes it easier for people with Parkinson’s to live and be accepted in society.”
Cranston looks forward to a bright future with more awareness opportunities for Parkinson’s disease and the people affected by it. His goal is to overcome personal challenges by demonstrating what can be accomplished by those with the disease, including physical activities, travel and military service.
“I’ve made some great contacts around the world with some of the different organizations and especially in the different countries where they are not well represented internationally, and one of the big things we have is the World Parkinson’s Congress,” Cranston said. “By bringing physicians, scientists, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, caregivers and people with Parkinson’s disease together, we hope to create a worldwide dialogue to help expedite the discovery of a cure and best treatment practices for this devastating disease.”
The next World Parkinson’s Congress is scheduled to take place in Portland, Ore., in 2016.
“At that point, we will be able to bring the same people together at the congress and for us to have a chance to have a unified voice to gain an opportunity for some awareness about the needs of Parkinson’s patients around the world,” Cranston said.