Gretchen Janssen

Gretchen Janssen is a psychotherapist and a pastor in the Presbyterian Church, with a life-long passion for helping others. She was diagnosed in May 2014, when she was 68. The diagnosis was complicated by the fact that her first symptom was tremor in her right foot; a somewhat atypical situation. Gretchen says that the most difficult things about having PD are that she can no longer rely on her voice to allow her to give sermons in church, and that her tremor makes dancing much more difficult.

Gretchen's most useful activities in support of her health include classes in tai chi and Argentine tango, stretching, a PD-specific exercise routine designed by her physical therapist, and walking for 45-60 minutes every day.  

 Gretchen says: "I'm learning to be grateful to people in my life the way they are, and not wanting them to be different. Having PD has allowed me to get to know a new community of people who support me and who I can support. My message to people, whether they have PD or other health challenges or not, is to live as much life as you can, and to support others as much as you can." 

This photograph was taken at a weekly tango practice in Portland, Oregon.