I missed this news this past weekend — I’m usually doing something else on Sunday mornings — but the announcement by the best-selling writer and longtime CBS News correspondent is worth noting. Bill Geist is a national treasure, and an all-around good guy. (On top of that — if memory serves — I believe his son’s wedding was presided over by a deacon.)
“CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent Bill Geist said going public with his recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis was a difficult decision to make.
Geist revealed his diagnosis this past weekend on “Sunday Morning.”
Tuesday on “CBS This Morning, Geist said on a day-to-day level “denial has always worked for me.” He added, “But with a disease, it’s kind of hard sometimes, you know, because it reminds you that it’s there, and I guess ultimately I’m not going to beat it, but I’d like to go 15 rounds.”
Geist, who has been living with the disease for more than 10 years said, “I didn’t want to be seen as the sick guy when you walk into a room, ‘Oh, he’s got Parkinson’s.’ That’s the first thing they think about, or I didn’t want to scare my kids and make them worry about it. There are personal reasons, too. You know, you’re afraid you’ll get laid off or won’t be promoted or something like that. There are all kinds of reasons for it.”
He waited years to tell his family. “My son (Willie Geist) was angry because – Parkinson’s saps your energy and I took a nap every afternoon – and he said he thought it was because we didn’t like him anymore. … He didn’t show it to me, but he told his mother that. My daughter took it pretty well.”
He quipped, “The pharmacist sends me greeting cards and bouquets of flowers because I spend so much time and money there. So, actually, I can keep it pretty much under control, taking about eight different things a day. So, I’m constantly reaching in for another pill, and people – there’s one guy, I had to take one once during an interview – and the guy said to me, ‘Oh, does that keep you going?’ he thought, ‘Oh, network correspondent,’ we’re taking drugs to stay up, and some of them are.”
Geist said he’s become an inspirational figure. “I’ve gotten, again, with the messages I’ve received from viewers, I mean, they say that helps – I’ve actually become an inspirational figure, you may not realize that, but people send notes and say, ‘You know, I’ve got it, my husband’s got it, my neighbor’s got it.’ And seeing somebody kind of go full-throttle through it.”
So when will Geist return to “CBS Sunday Morning”? He said “very soon” – and then, referring to his leave from work, said, “I’m trying to milk it as long as I can.”
You can watch part of his announcement below.