Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013 Sheryl Jedlinski
There was a feeling of electricity in the crowd at the opening ceremony of the third World Parkinson Congress in Montreal. Some 3,150 attendees — doctors, researchers, allied health professionals, care partners, and people with Parkinson’s — travelled from 44 countries to participate in an ongoing international dialogue aimed at identifying the best treatment practices and ultimately finding a cure for Parkinson’s. The theme of the evening, and the conference as a whole, was one of hope and perseverance, and encouraging patients to become actively involved in their care decisions and in clinical trials.
“This Congress is about community and hope,” said WPC Ambassador Bob Kuhn in his welcoming address. “The biggest difference between illness and wellness is that illness starts with the word “I” and wellness starts with the word “we.” We” is the future – we are the future. What we are doing today will be the future, and it is bright and positive.”
Surveying the crowd in the huge ballroom, I noticed that the “face” of Parkinson’s seemed much younger and more mobile (able to get around without a wheelchair or walker) than it had when I was diagnosed 15 years ago. Is it because I’m looking at it through older eyes, because of the self selection process involved in deciding whether or not to travel to and participate in an international conference, or because more people are being diagnosed at earlier ages? Whatever the reason, they were ready to learn about the latest research, promising therapies, clinical trials, and strategies for improving quality of life.
Tim Hague, winner of the 2013 Amazing Race Canada, likened his race experience to his Parkinson’s. “The one word that I came away with is perseverance. You never know where the next bit of luck is going to come from, what the next good thing is going to be. You can’t give up. You have to persevere. Many thousands of people are putting their time and their energy into trying to find a cure and making life better for people with Parkinson’s. A massive number of people are behind us, so don’t give up.”