CBC features Calgarian's battle with Parkinson's

DARREN FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

There's nothing funny about being diagnosed with a deadly disease.

But Calgary's Brent Peterson soon realized after being told he had Parkinson's Disease that laughter is the best medicine.

The Nashville Predators assistant coach who, upon hearing he had the debilitating affliction, took the news really hard.

Soon thereafter, though, Peterson got some words of encouragement from someone else dealing with Parkinson's.

"When I was first diagnosed I called Michael J. Fox and he just sort of said what I was going to go through," said Peterson about talking to the one-time television and movie star, a friend of former NHLer Cam Neely.

"The biggest thing (Fox) told me to do was to make sure I laughed about things and enjoyed things because you can't hide and feel sorry for yourself. That really helped when I first was trying to deal with it."

Peterson's story of dealing with the disease the past five years is going to be the subject today of a feature during Hockey Day in Canada on CBC.

According to the 48-year-old, the segment, which will air during the second intermission of the New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens game (1 p.m., Ch. 6), was the last thing on his mind following Nashville's 8-3 trouncing of the Chicago Blackhawks last night.

"I don't even know what time it's on," he said. "I haven't talked to (the CBC) about it but they called our (public relations) department and said it turned out really well and I didn't even know it was going to air ... I imagine someone will tape it for me back in Calgary."

It is this carefree attitude that has allowed Peterson to concentrate on his work the past few years following his diagnosis.

At first, the coach who captured a Memorial Cup with the Portland Winter Hawks, couldn't even muster the courage to tell his children, let alone the Predators organization.

But now his outlook has changed drastically and the hopes of being a head coach in the NHL still burns inside him.

"I'm pretty lucky that it hasn't progressed that much yet," Peterson said.

"I had trouble at first dealing with it and now that I'm able to deal with it and knowing that it doesn't affect my job, I can talk about it a lot more.

"The first couple of years, we didn't tell anybody. We didn't even tell our kids for a couple of years. We told the players and the team three years ago and they've been very supportive and Barry Trotz has been great to me.

"So far it hasn't progressed so it affects my job.

"The doctor thinks that I'll be fine for another five to 10 more years."

"Luckily it's been slow to progress but it is incurable and hopefully by the time it affects me more, they will have some kind of treatment or new drug that will help out.

"Right now, though, I'm doing really well."


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