This October, Brownieland seeks to highlight a friend, and her life journey with Parkinson’s. The month’s Volunteer Project is a personal and momentous event for many in the Parkinson’s community, where Susan Brown and her team raised $34,000 in donations. Last year, we profiled Susan and shared her story, which is still so inspiring to us today, as she continues her advocacy with the Parkinson’s Foundation.
“Moving Day is an opportunity to celebrate our friends and family who walk with us on the Parkinson’s journey” Susan Brown explains. “Serving on the advisory board for the Foundation has given me a sense of purpose and a way for my family to rally around the hope that a cure is on the way. Most importantly, it has provided a framework for me to focus on putting a face to Parkinson’s disease. It is a marathon that affects the whole family, and it is me!”
Susan Brown’s story, like many others diagnosed with Parkinson’s, began with a phone call, one that would alter her life in immeasurable and unknowable ways:
“On Halloween, at 4:00 p.m. 2017, I received a phone call from my neurologist confirming a diagnosis of Early Onset Parkinson’s disease. I strongly suspected I had Parkinson’s because I had developed symptoms that resembled those of my father, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his fifties also. For two years, doctors chased down symptoms that included a stiff hand, achy shoulder, tremor in my left foot, and fatigue. I was alone when the call came in, and I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen wondering how I was going to manage being a mother of two teenagers, a caregiver for my father, a wife, a friend, and a colleague at the Atlanta Speech School with Parkinson’s. How would I tell my parents who would worry about me constantly as soon as I told them? I didn’t want my father to blame himself for the genetics, and I didn’t want to sign up my husband for a future that would look very different than we envisioned.”
Brown goes on to describe the journey she would embark on given the diagnosis, but it ultimately would not dampen her spirits.
“After four years, I am finally settling into the reality of living with a progressive neurodegenerative disease. I take 20 pills a day. I exercise (and I’m not an exerciser), and I battle brutal insomnia. But, I have an excellent team of doctors, trainers, family, and friends. I decided early on that I wouldn’t make assumptions about my path relative to my father’s progression, and I would find a community of Parkinson’s patients and caregivers to join. I’m an open book, and Parkinson’s is now part of my identity. I needed to find my Parkinson’s village.”
Cue the Parkinson’s Foundation of Georgia:
“Our team, the Atlanta Movers and Shakers (pun intended), just finished participating in our 5th walk, and I’m proud to share that we raised over $28,000 this year for the Foundation. Team members included friends and family from coast to coast and even international members! We asked that folks share our team page with nine people this year. Every nine minutes, someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the United States.”
Finding the Parkinson’s Foundation dramatically changed the trajectory of Brown’s perspective on such a life-altering diagnosis. She endeavors on with the community she has cultivated. Some moments are easier than others, but Brown concludes with a heartfelt and courageous personal decision to carry on.
“Most days, my Parkinson’s is at the top of my mind. There are very few moments when I forget I have it. However, not long after being diagnosed, I attended a birthday party where I spent joyful hours dancing with friends. A friend recently reminded me to keep dancing. I plan to!”
If you are compelled by Susan’s story, and many other like her, donate to the Parkinson’s Foundation, HERE. Let them know that Brownieland Pictures sent you!