‘It’s going to be hard, but you can do it:’ Lifting the weight of Parkinson’s

GRANDVILLE, Mich -- It's said that "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Alison Sheltrown is taking that approach beating Parkinson's -- with powerlifting.

Alison was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when she was 41 years old. Only four percent of Parkinson's diagnoses are of people younger than 50, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Alison says she was incredulous. "I'm sorry, what? Michael J. Fox has that. Muhammad Ali has that. I'm a young woman; how do I have the old man's disease?"

But for Alison, her choice was either to be bitter or get better, so she chose the high road. Now she's helping others do the same.

Four years after being diagnosed, she continues to strength train at Maximus Fitness in Grandville.

Deadlifting is her favorite she says. Alison has competed in body building shows before, and she hopes next to compete in powerlifting. Her max is 255 pounds, but no weight measures up to the one she carries every day.

"Especially when you're newly diagnosed," she said. "You feel like you're all alone, and you feel like nobody understands what this disease is like, nobody understands you have pain. Nobody understands the tornado in your brain, the anxiety, depression."

What's more, men are more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's than women, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, says the American Journal of Epidemiology.

But all of those burdens are lifted, Alison says, when she's lifting at the gym, hoping to show others that the biggest weight one can have is a negative mind.

"That's the message I want to send: It's going to be hard, but you can do it," Alison said.

Alison does a lot of advocating in the community, especially on Facebook. If you're interested in connecting, click here.

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