I was 49 years old when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. As with many others who are on a similar journey, hearing those words felt like a huge blow. I was flooded with questions. I’ve been a physiotherapist for 25 years. What is going to happen to my career, my family, my life?
I was a caregiver. I didn’t know that much about Parkinson’s but knew I could learn. So that’s what I did. Then, I started to share my knowledge with others who had been diagnosed and were looking for patient-centred ways to live well despite the disease.
Six of us started exercising at Panorama Recreation Centre. Together, we learned that Parkinson’s made us smaller in the world, and we needed to get bigger. Our exercises focused on this. One day we thought we were so big that an 8lb medicine ball went over the barrier and landed in the swimming pool!
As we learned, we realized how much fun we were having together. So much laughter and sharing. We had created a built-in support group through Parkinson’s specific exercises. Others started to join us.
We grew out of our space and moved to Greenglades in Sidney. We continued to grow and added what is now our brand new custom-built gym and living room in downtown Victoria. We have grown into the community I always dreamed of becoming but never thought we could get to.
Thanks to our incredible donors, dedicated volunteers, and tireless hours of work from Gil Tourigny (construction supervisor) and Lisa Macquisten (program developer), my dream of having a Parkinson Wellness Centre has now grown bigger than all of us combined!
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has given so generously to support this project! Together we did it!