Former reporter Kathy Walsh battles Huntington's disease

- Kathy Walsh, a former WJBK reporter who left her mark on metro Detroit, is now back in the spotlight and telling a very different story. It's one of her personal battle with Huntington's disease.

Kathy spent 15 years in television news, six of those years as a reporter for WJBK back in the '90s. She could tackle any story.

FOX 2: "You were unafraid."

"Yes that's true and I'm still that way," she says.

And now it's more important than ever because now she's tackling her toughest story yet - her own struggle with Huntington's disease, the debilitating neurological illness that has no cure.

"When I first got the diagnosis I was scared," she says. "But then I knew that I had a great support system and family who loves me and we will do everything we can to make sure the cure they're working on, becomes a reality."

Her positive spirit is inspiring. Huntington's is a fatal genetic disorder that breaks down nerve cells in the brain, leading to physical and mental deterioration and eventually death.

"It's a coin toss," says Don Peasley, her husband. “If you have a parent with Huntington's you have a 50 percent chance of having it. We didn't find out her father had it until right after we got married. Unfortunately he tried to commit suicide and he was trying to go it alone. That's when we got the diagnosis."

That was 20 years ago. They were able to get Kathy's father treatment and support in his last days, something every Huntington's patient needs. Kathy started exhibiting signs back in 2007 while working in media consulting. By 2012, she could no longer ignore the symptoms - spastic movements, confusion. She was diagnosed in 2013.

"It's a 10, 15, 20-year journey and you don't want to do it alone," Peasley says. She's definitely not alone.

Peasley is her primary caregiver and 16-year-old son, Carson, is a rock, who knows he, too, may someday decide to get tested for Huntington's.

"When we told him what his mother had and that he had a 50 percent chance of having it, he looked at us and said, 'Well, I'm lucky,'" Peasley says.

Even in the face of this tremendous adversity they all consider themselves lucky to have each other - to have another day.

"It makes you slow down and appreciate what you have every day," Kathy says. "No matter what life hands you - it's a gift. It's a good thing to have, it makes you humble. Less is more.

"Every day's a gift."

And along with family and friends, a caregiver and her support group, Kathy is staying strong by walking every day and doing yoga regularly.

"It's made me a lot stronger physically and mentally," she says.

"They're finding potentially that yoga, with these motion related diseases, has the ability to slow onset (and) control the movements," Peasley said.

Kathy was at yoga class Monday night. Her instructor, wellness coach Lois Jennings, believes it's helping.

"She just glows to be here and she never misses either," Jennings said.

"You have to stay busy - mentally, physically, emotionally," Kathy said.

Kathy and dozens of others will be doing just that Saturday at Shain Park. The Yoga Shelter is conducting classes, providing yoga and mats and inviting everyone to support the Huntington's disease Society of America.

"Raise a little awareness, raise a little make sure people know that just because you get something like this - it's not a death sentence," Walsh says. "It's about living life to the fullest and being the best person you can be."

For more information on Yoga in the Park at Shain Park, sign up here http://michigan.hdsa.org/events

To visit the Huntington's Disease Society of America's Michigan site here: http://michigan.hdsa.org/

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