by Judi Christy

It’s fitting that 60-year-old Teresa Parsons is a Beatles fan.  Her journey has been the long and winding road of doctor’s appointments, missed diagnoses, hospital stays, and conflicting information.    An LPN for over 30 years, Teresa knows a thing or two about health, especially her own.  Yet, she had one heck of a time getting confirmation on the cause of symptoms that plagued her, for years, with extreme muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and almost 100 extra pounds.    

Cushing Syndrome, in its very rarest form, was finally recognized, with adrenal cancer being the culprit.  Because of her weight and weakened condition, surgery was not given as an option for Teresa.   In 2015, she was handed a brochure on Hospice and a box of Kleenex.  She was advised to get her affairs in order.  

But Teresa and her family would not let it be.   Together they changed eating habits and other lifestyle choices.  In February 2017, Teresa had surgery on Friday and was home on Tuesday.  Her home care physical therapy started the following day.     

A few weeks later, she continued her care at the Wadsworth YMCA, under the guidance of Wellness Director/Summa athletic trainer Gary Lake, who works closely with patients referred to the Y for continued mobility and increased strength.

“When I first met Teresa she was very weak, but very determined,” said Lake.  “But on Day One, she told me that she had a bucket list that started with taking a vacation out West, this summer, with Bob (her husband of 40 years).”

A day tripper?  Not exactly.  Teresa had planned a month of camping and hiking in 8 national parks, dancing, gambling, eating, visiting relatives and taking a wee bit of a magical mystery tour to Haight-Ashbury.

But, before she could pack up her love beads and sunglasses, she had to get stronger.

Lake, who was committed to getting Teresa to her goal, designed an independent exercise regimen with machines, weights and walking the stairs.  She also utilized the temperature-controlled therapy pool, an activity that ultimately led her to a new obsession:  Zumba.  “I was changing my clothes from water therapy, when I saw that class going on,” said Teresa, “and I knew that I just had to try it!”

But, because her gait was a little unsteady, grand-daughter, Sophie, takes the class with her and Teresa’s well-being is a family-commitment.  “She’s there to keep me steady,” said Teresa, who encouraged her daughter, Emily and her family to become Y-members as a result of her experience with therapy, classes and the Wadsworth branch.

“We surprised Mom by joining the Y when she and my dad were out West,” said daughter, Emily, who is also a nurse and a source of hope, encouragement and laughter for her Mom.  Teresa and her family visit the Y an average of 6 times per week. 

“It’s been a long journey,” said Emily, “but my mom has always been someone who has pushed herself and not given up.”

With that, Teresa looked to Gary, her athletic trainer.  “I think I’m ready to do more,” she said with a smile.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise


Contact Information

Akron Area YMCA
50 S. Main Street, Ste. LL 100
Akron, Ohio 44308
(330) 376-1335