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Pattie Petty Being Treated For Parkinson’s

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 29 2011

Pattie Petty and Kyle Petty accept $1 million check from Tony Stewart. Pattie Petty has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

RacinToday.com

Pattie Petty, philanthropist and wife of retired NASCAR driver and television analyst Kyle Petty, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She is being treated in Kansas City.

Petty, 60, suspected she had Parkinson’s in early 2010 when she began experiencing resting tremors and aching muscles – two symptoms her father suffered in the early stages of his 15-year battle with the disease. A doctor in Nashville, Tenn., confirmed her concerns giving her an initial diagnosis based upon her distinctive outward symptoms and started her on anti-Parkinson’s drugs last summer.

“After watching my father live with Parkinson’s, it was not a surprise when I was told that I may be suffering from this disease as well,” Petty said. “I followed my doctor’s advice and began a series of medications, so that I could continue my plan of working a couple of weeks a month in Kansas City laying the groundwork to open Victory Junction Midwest.”

Victory Junction Midwest is slated to be the sister camp to Victory Junction in Randleman, N.C., a camp for chronically ill children started by Petty and her husband in honor of their oldest son, Adam, who died in a NASCAR practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000.

“When I was introduced to the medical staff at University of Kansas Hospital,” Petty said, “I knew immediately Victory Junction Midwest was not the only reason I was meant to be in Kansas City.”

Pattie Petty is the 10th person at The University of Kansas Hospital to undergo a breakthrough test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease and other tremors. The FDA earlier this year approved DaTscan, a test that uses a radioactive imaging drug injected into the bloodstream for the purpose of detecting dopamine transporters (DaT) in the brain. The University of Kansas Hospital is the first in the region to offer DaTscan.

“The test is helpful to distinguish tremors that a patient might have from various other neurological conditions,” said Reginald Dusing, MD, radiologist in nuclear medicine. “Knowing the precise diagnosis allows the physician to pick the right medicines to help patients like Pattie control her symptoms and allow her to lead a more active life.”

The test confirmed Monday that Pattie has Parkinson ’s disease.

“Making the diagnosis is key,” Dusing said. “There are effective medicines to treat Parkinson’s disease, but they can have a powerful physiological effect on your body if you don’t need them. If you need them they’re wonderful, but they have to be carefully regulated which is why this test is considered a breakthrough diagnostic tool.”

Petty said the unfortunate diagnosis nevertheless left her with a sense of relief. “I am relieved that my family and I are confident in my diagnosis and can focus on the work we have ahead of us to live with Parkinson’s disease,” Petty said. “Kyle and I have already been blessed by the outpouring support to bring Victory Junction Midwest to Greater Kansas City and we feel doubly blessed that we have a strong and dedicated group of professionals at University of Kansas Hospital providing us with the latest medical technology and assisting us with this disease.

“This ‘official’ diagnosis does not change our efforts in Kansas City. My hands may not be still, and I might move a bit slower right now, but we are moving full-steam ahead to change the lives of chronically ill children in the Midwest.”

Kyle Petty said he expects his wife of 33 years to remain active in all aspects of her life. “Pattie’s dedication to Victory Junction Midwest is firm,” Kyle said. “Staying active is an important part of managing Parkinson’s and that will not be hard for my wife. Pattie will not let Parkinson’s regulate her life. She will continue her initiative to expand Victory Junction, while our kids and I will support her and help her cope with this disease.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 29 2011
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