This piece was published in the second issue of ON THE MOVE, the quarterly newsletter of Parkinson’s
Movement. For access to this issue please join the Parkinson’s Movement at: http://www.parkinsonsmovement.com/join-parkinsons-movement/
The Two Most Important Days
A few months ago I discovered a quote from Mark Twain that pretty well sums up what it means to become an advocate for awareness, education, and seeking the best quality of life possible for people living with PD:
“The two most important days of your life are the day that you were born and the day you find out why”
I’ve often shared my story of how I was diagnosed with PD at 42. About a year later when visiting with my youngest sister, she commented that it seemed that I had found my purpose in life and she wished she could find hers. I immediately responded that one person in the family living with PD was enough and that she would have to find her own purpose that hopefully didn’t involve an incurable disease. She has in fact found an equally important purpose in helping taking care of our dad, and I am truly grateful to her.
That second most important day of my life came after I had gone through an incredibly dark time in my life that lasted about nine months. On that Sunday morning when I realized that this disease that I had been burdened with could no longer be the focal point of my life and that there were many more people in the world that had struggles worse than mine, I had to do something about it and it was at that point that I found out the reason why….
Looking back it seems that everything was working itself out without me realizing what was taking place. That Sunday morning almost five years ago was the turning point in my life as I knew it up to then. It seemed like my symptoms were less bothersome the more I thought about others, their struggles, and what I could do to make their lives better. My local neurologist’s comment when he first diagnosed me rang true in what I wanted to accomplish in my mission to help others, “I don’t know what it will be like for you in 5 or 10 years down the road, but in the meantime I want you to have a good quality of life”.
I am humbled by the wonderful opportunities afforded to me by this disease. There are days when I ponder the words disease, illness, sickness, suffer with, afflicted with, among many others. This is probably the hardest part of living with an incurable disease because people feel that you should look a certain way, act in a certain way, and react to their comments in a “woe is me” fashion. I will confess that there are days that get the best of me but I know full well that tomorrow will be better because I have faith that things will work out for the best.
It took a bit over 42 years after I was born to discover the second most important day but my passion to make Parkinson’s Disease a thing of the past will not waver. The focus of my mission will ebb and flow slightly depending on what issues take priority, but I don’t see it in myself to let my worldwide family of people living with PD down.