Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the ripe young age of 35 was more than difficult for Diana Rachlis, but with the help of her family, she’s living a full life and is truly excited about the future.
Diana, who also suffers from Dystonia and Celiac disease, was emotionally drained after her Parkinson’s diagnosis and spent the better part of a year in various states of depression.
She now lives life with a different attitude and a better outlook for her future, which in turn is helping improve her Parkinson’s symptoms. It all started with a little help from family and some personal motivation.
“I said to myself ‘I’m not going to let Parkinson’s takeover my life. I’m not going to stay home all day and worry that my foot is going to go bad (from Dystonia).’ You’ve got to be positive,” Diana said.
Today, Diana has ample support to keep going from family, friends and her fiancé Daniel Harvey.
“My fiancé, Daniel, and my family have been very supportive. My dad, Lorne, is more there for emotional support. He was the one that told me when I had tremors for the first time that I should go check it out,” Diana said.
Diana’s mother Louise and her sister Naomi have both taken it upon themselves to get personally involved in the greater Parkinson’s community. Naomi, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate, has taken her existing skills and enrolled in a Masters of Music Therapy program with specific prerequisites for enrollment.
“I will graduate in September 2014 with a Masters in Music Therapy. The music theatre degree I have is pretty rare. Only a handful of people have completed it. You need a music degree to get into the Music Therapy field. After 10 years of preforming and schooling I got in.”
Louise Rachlis is also involved in many facets of Parkinson Society Canada as well as her daughter’s day to day care. She does her part to ensure Diana has a healthy and full life for as long as possible.
“Once Diana was diagnosed three years ago I wanted to help. I was asked to be on the board of Parkinson Society Ottawa,” said Louise.
Diana feels she has a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.
“I’m very excited. Daniel and I are getting married on April 14th of this year. My sister is going to be my Matron of Honour and my brother is going to be Master of Ceremonies. I have the best family in the world,” Diana mused.
The Rachlis’ have learned a lot from each other and their collective journey with Parkinson’s. They feel their experiences can help others in similar situations.
“Keep motivated to do any kind of exercise; anything that keeps you moving. It can relax you, help with symptoms and give you more positive energy,” Diana reinforced.
“Don’t make it about you,” Naomi added. “Be there as a force of strength and support for your relatives and listen to what they’re saying. Happiness is a choice and Diana choses happiness. That’s pretty awesome.”
“Stay positive, try to be around positive people and those that are a good influence,” Diana urged. “Don’t let Parkinson’s get you down and control your whole life.”
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. For additional information and printable resources visit www.parkinson.ca or call 1-800-565-3000.