Life, post-diagnosis

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I commend Neil and Suzanne Alexander for their creation of and the Iron Horse Awards to help families coping with ALS ("Grant to Help Kids of ALS Patients," Sept. 8). I admire Mr. Alexander's acceptance that there isn't much he can do to affect the disease, but that he can control his reaction to the disease.

The Alexanders' attitude is consistent with my father's attitude throughout his 21-year battle with Parkinson's disease, another degenerative neurological disease with no cure or definitive neuroprotection to slow or halt disease progression. My dad's attitude -- it's not the cards you're dealt, it's how you play the game -- shaped his response to Parkinson's disease. When patients choose not to let these diseases crush them, positive impacts emerge from a life-altering diagnosis.

When my father died from Parkinson's disease in 2009, his obituary began with these words, "Irving Popkin, whose optimism and determination made him a local leader among people living with Parkinson's disease ... " ("Irving Popkin: Inspired Many With His Sense of Humor," March 8, 2009, news obituary).

Like Mr. Alexander, my father accepted the diagnosis and moved forward with his life, helping other Pittsburgh-area Parkinson's disease patients and their families.

Mt. Lebanon



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