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Cycling gives new lease of life to Cidney

posted Feb 13, 2015, 10:56 PM by Dianne James

Parkinson's disease affects thousands of people in the valley. It will be the topic of discussion during an event at UNLV this weekend. While there is no cure, patients are finding ways to treat it without medication and surgery.

Cycling is a fun workout for many athletes. For Cidney Donahoo, cycling represents a new lease on life.

She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2010, four years after she developed symptoms.

“My husband and I and my oldest son were on a vacation in Washington, D.C., and my husband started asking me, 'Why are you walking like that?' I really didn't know what he was talking about,” she said.

Donahoo says she had a hard time accepting that living with Parkinson's disease would change her life forever.

“It's a scary thing," she said.

She decided to take control and make some changes of her own. “To be able to get on the bike and just go," she said.

She and her husband started cycling four years ago. Now, they jump on their bikes three to four times a week.

“It's brought my wife and I closer together," Pat Donahoo said.

"It's very therapeutic mentally. It also really helps with symptoms too," Cidney said.

While medication and surgery treat Parkinson's disease, studies show exercise slows down the progression of symptoms such as shaking and stiffness.

"Being active is a very important part of the whole picture of treating Parkinson's. You can't just rely on a pill," said Dr. Ryan Walsh, director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorder program at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Parkinson's commonly develops in people over the age of 60, but it can start earlier.

“This is a long-term battle. It's a chronic disease," Dr. Walsh said.

“People with Parkinson's can still be active, can still be productive, can still live a fulfilling life," Cidney said.

With the support of her family and her husband by her side, that's exactly what she is doing.

"I plan for the future, but I live for today," she said.

Cidney and her husband also advocate for Parkinson's disease awareness.