Rolando Chaves was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in June 2005, six months after noticing a tremor in a finger. He has undergone deep brain stimulation twice to control symptoms. While his speech has slowed, he continues to exercise to maintain his physical ability.
In June, he and his family will embark on a 500-mile pilgrimage in northwestern Spain known as “El Camino de Santiago de Compostela” or “The Way of St. James.” He has named his walk “El Camino for the Cure” and the family also will host a silent auction for the Iowa Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association on Friday with the goal of raising $10,000 for research and local efforts.
Chaves is training by walking four miles a day. He explained the journey with the help of his wife, Gina. Both are members of the association’s board of directors.
What therapy has worked well for you?
Rolando: I had deep brain stimulation five years ago.
Gina: He only had symptoms on one side, so they did the left side to take care of the right side of the body. Then tremors started on the left side.
Did medication help?
Rolando: I tried five different medications and nothing really worked. They had side effects and didn’t help the tremors. I lost 20 pounds.
How has Parkinson’s impacted your life?
Rolando: At first I tried to run away from it by changing jobs. I tried to hide it.
Gina: He didn’t want co-workers or friends to know he was dealing with this. Our kids were both in middle school at the time.
We were trying to deal with this change, so it was very stressful for all of us.
Rolando: I came back to my old job. I realized I needed a support system.
Gina: His voice was still at a manageable level. It was two years ago after the second surgery that he started noticing some difficulty.
How did you get the idea for the walk?
Rolando: I heard about it growing up.
Gina: When we were traveling to Costa Rica, the in-flight magazine had an article about it in the movie “The Way.” We saw the movie.
Rolando: I wanted to do it right away.
What’s the purpose of the walk?
Ronaldo: It’s mainly to create awareness here and share time with family.
Gina: The Facebook page will help people stay connected. It’s a physical, spiritual and social journey.
What we’ve heard from others who have done the walk is that you meet a lot of people. In the hostels there are family-style dinners, so there will be opportunities to talk to others.
See article online: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013304220015
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