When I was given the opportunity to “interview” Brian for an article for my blog I was over the moon! There was no way I would refuse that once in a lifetime chance. We were originally set to meet in person at the congress to have our conversation however things were hectic for him and I told his assistant that I’d be quite happy to chat with him after the congress was over and things settled down for him. I was exhausted so I could only imagine how he was feeling given his schedule that week. And well, it’s pretty cool to be able to say that Brian Grant has my phone number, I’ve told a few people “Brian called the other day we had a great 20 minute chat” Ha! I’m considering us friends now, but at the very least he’s incredible and an inspiration to the PD community, we are lucky to have such spokes people to bring awareness to the disease, particularly that it’s not only old people that get it like him and Michael J Fox.
To give you a brief background, Brian was diagnosed with YOPD around 36 years of age, he had recently retired from his NBA career. It started with a slight wrist tremor while still playing in the NBA where he joked in one of his speeches that upon asking one of the team doctors about it and what it was they simply responded “old age” as when you’re a professional athlete that’s considered old I suppose. Brian has 6 sons and 2 daughters and has been married and divorced twice. Below you'll find the questions I posed to Brian.
I would tell them to take the time for themselves before they try and help everyone else understand what’s going on with them. If you just get diagnosed other than your partner, they need to know but as far as the kids and relatives and others come out at your own pace. Unless there’s questions being posed to you, like why do you look like that when you stare at me, or why does your hand shake? Things that aren’t normal to them and the doors open, then tell them. But I would advise everyone to do that at their own pace and speed, to wait until you’re comfortable with it before you let everyone else in.
Our conversation ended with him asking me how long I have been living with Parkinson’s and a bit about my life which I thought was so kind of him. I got the feeling that like myself this wasn’t an “interview” like thousands he had done before. This was two people living with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, two parents trying their best to be the best they can be for their kids; two ‘young-ish’ people fighting a disease for a very long time to come that were simply having a conversation about life with Parkinson’s. Or at least that’s certainly how he made me feel and it was pretty awesome. We talked about how we are lucky, I believe we share the same opinion on that and that yes we have PD but it could always be worse. He truly is an amazing man and a wonderful advocate and spokesperson for the Parkinson’s community and I’m very grateful to have had the pleasure of meeting him, speaking with him a couple of times at the World Parkinson Congress and having this lengthy conversation over the phone with him. We ended our call with him thanking me for following his foundation and for writing a blog and told me to keep doing what I’m doing. And that nearly brought me to tears hearing it from him. How incredible and gracious is he?