For Young Onset, Newly Diagnosed, or, Really Just About Anyone
I first met Sam at the World Parkinsons Congress in Portland in 2016. Here was this woman, looking almost like a teenager, confidently walking around the convention center with a shirt that proclaimed on the back “I’ll be around until there is a cure”. I had the pleasure of meeting Sam during the convention; she was 26 at the time, my own children’s age. How could this be; I thought I was young for having Parkinsons. Sam, I learned, had the hope and tenacity of youth coupled with the maturity and insight of a much older person. Over the next few years I watched, through social media, Sam’s life move forward. The video of her fiancé proposing to her, the posts about the advocacy work she was involved in to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s. She wasn’t sitting still. I met up with Sam again at the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC last Spring. She was there with her dad representing the state of Wisconsin and advocating for legislation that supports people living with Parkinson’s. In October Sam was married. Her wedding was featured on the Rustic Wedding website. https://www.rusticbride.com/barn-weddings/wisconsin-wedding-made-with-love/ The bench her fiancé handcrafted for her and the surprise father/daughter dance were especially touching.
What can we learn from this young woman? Simple, never give up. Ever. This disease can bring you to your knees and take all you’ve got sometimes. Still, never give up. Never let this disease take your dreams. Dreams and expectations may need to change, but new dreams can be just as beautiful and rewarding. It doesn’t matter if your in the spring of your life and will live many years with Parkinson’s, or approaching the fall or winter of life, keep living and keep making new dreams. Always know that you are so much more than Parkinson’s. Live strong, celebrate victories, you can do this!
- Cidney Donahoo