Nathan Henwood

Country of residence:








Weyerhaeuser Mill in Aberdeen, 34 years

Who is accompanying you on the Kilimanjaro climb?


Daniel Wilkins

When were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?




Please provide a history of your disease and how the disease is now affecting your life?



I was first diagnosed with "Blepharospasm", a blinking disorder that can be treated, but not cured. I started a regimen of pills and had hundreds of Botox injections in my face. This helped, but the results were irregular. I would often go to work with my eyelids taped open.

It was during a visit to another neurologist that I was diagnosed with Parkinson's. I was lucky because it started off on my left side and I'm right-handed. I also found strength in the memory of my second wife and her battle with cancer.

Although doctors prescribed pills to relieve my symptoms, the muscle spasms continued to get stronger and farther out of control. At the worst of times, my muscles would tense up as if I was doing strenuous work, sometimes even if I was merely sitting down. It got to the point where I was taking pills five times a day and still the relief was sporadic. I had brain surgeries done to have electronic stimulators embedded in my brain. Although the surgeries were successful, they could only alleviate my symptoms.

How have your relationships with your family/personal/friend relationships been affected by your diagnosis?


My current wife, Robbie, was with me when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's. She has been there for the surgeries, the medications, the depression and the ‘newfound’ hope. During a recent trek on Mount Rainier, she kept track of my progress through an electronic device I carry called a "Spot," which broadcasts my position on the Internet in real time.

The device has helped her give full support to my mountaineering goals.

What has motivated you to take part in the Kilimanjaro climb?



I saw a talk on the upcoming climb to Kilimanjaro on my doctor’s Facebook page. It turned out Dr. Monique Giroux and Neurological Physician's Assistant Sierra Farris of the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation (NPF) were organizing a trip with their Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's patients. The doctors at NPF promote a holistic approach to Parkinson's. It's a case of treating the whole body and soul, not just the symptoms. That means yoga, exercise, attitude, and setting goals. They saw the climb as a way to jump forward and practice what they preach. I e-mailed the group and asked to join "Team Kilimanjaro".

What is your previous experience of hiking/climbing?



Hiking Camp Muir on the side of Mount Rainier twice, the first time 12 years ago before having been diagnosed with PD, the second time a couple of months ago.

What are your aspirations/hopes for the Kilimanjaro climb?



I have something to prove when I climb. Getting to Camp Muir was more than just a day’s goal. It was a necessary step, an obstacle to overcome on my way to a larger goal; reaching the summit of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The only way to get there is one step at a time. Committing to a goal is simply the first of many steps to achieving it.

What would you say to other people who are living with PD?



I want to show to myself and others suffering from Parkinson’s or MS that they are not diseases that ‘pigeon hole’ you into not doing anything with your life. PD is not a death sentence.