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    Posted August 14, 2014 by
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    In Memoriam

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    Thank You, Mr. Williams

    In 2005, while deployed as a physician in the U.S. Air Force in Kuwait, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Robin Williams. Although there were hundreds of us packed into the hangar that afternoon, I can't describe in words the impact his presence had on each of us individually. The fact that someone of his stature would make such a sacrifice, somehow helped each of us deal with the difficulties of the sacrifices that we and our families back home were making each day of the deployment.

    The day after his passing I posted my photo with Mr. Williams on multiple sites to try to highlight the story of his commitment to the troops through his many USO activities. I figured that would be the extent of my slight connection to this great man. Then the news of his diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease was released today.

    In 2010, at the age of 44, I too was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Like Robin Williams and many others, I only disclosed the diagnosis to my closest friends and family for the first four years. Those that I continued to serve with in the Air Force had no idea that I had Parkinson's. However, like most with Parkinson's, anxiety and depression symptoms were a significant part of my symptom complex .

    Then in April 2014, I took on a personal challenge to raise Parkinson's awareness that I titled "Run-the-World 4 Parkinson's Disease". During 4 weeks and 4 days, starting 4/4/14, I ran 4 miles in 44 different countries. I met with thousands of other people affected by Parkinson's, met Presidents and Olympic athletes, participated in countless media interviews, and most of all learned so much about the needs of others affected by Parkinson's around the world.

    The words chosen in the brief statement released by Robin Williams's wife today hit home for all us with Parkinson's. The quote: "he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly" highlights a number of characteristics of Parkinson's that we all hope our awareness efforts will improve:
    1. Understanding the association of PD with anxiety and depression
    2. Understanding that in the early stages physical signs may not be obvious (or medications may treat), so that those with PD are not recognized as having the diagnosis.
    3. Understanding that PD still carries a stigma that prevents many with PD from feeling comfortable letting others know about the diagnosis.

    Robin Williams improved the lives of so many people around the world during his life. Hopefully the story of his very, very sad passing will help others to avoid the type of pain he experience behind the scenes.

    Thank you for all you did for others, Mr. Williams.
    -Col (ret) Marcus Cranston
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