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Lake Denk

Hey everyone, my name is Lake. I am 38 years old. I live in San Antonio (for now, I like to move around). I do call Kansas City my home since I was there for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia 16 years ago. It all started when I was in college and I wanted to ride my bike on some of the dirt trails. It’s hard to describe the feeling to others without FA (but you know what I’m talking about) of knowing in your mind how to do something, but your body is saying no. Shortly after that I went to a neurologist who ran a gamut of tests; MRI, CAT scan, blood work, EMG (my personal favorite) and a spinal tap.

LakeNothing. Nada. As far as he could tell by the results I was healthy, but from what he was seeing and hearing from me, he wanted a second opinion. He sent me to another neurologist, from one look at how I walked and what I described; he had me do a new DNA test that had just come out. I was tested for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA). The result came back that I, unfortunately, had FA. My first question was “How do I get rid of it?” The answer from the neurologist, currently there is no treatment or cure, was clearly something I didn’t understand.


Let's just say it wasn't good for the liver being a 22-year-old college student that was told she had a life-shortening neuromuscular disorder. I took the news hard, the more I read about the details of FA, the more I wanted to just give up. For many years, I just went through life, day after day (kind of boring). But with the help of my friends and family, I started to see the beauty in everything, I started to care.

I not only cared about myself but the entire FA community. I wanted to be a voice for others in the community that couldn’t. I wanted to absorb everything that had to do with a possible cure or anything to slow down the progression and educate anyone. This is why I became a FARA Ambassador. I now lead by example. I want others to learn about FA and realize that we are the strongest group of people and we don’t give up.

If anyone tells you it’s easy, it’s not. But nothing that truly matters is. I can say that I overcame a bleak diagnosis. I could be on my couch feeling sorry for myself for what was handed to me (which is totally understandable), but what a waste. Instead, I travel, spend time with my wonderful friends and share my life with my biggest fan, Tiffany.

Life could be worse, I could have regrets.


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