NWPF

PD Community BlogRead Blog

Living with Hope

Friday September 04, 2015

We sat down with Terry Harrigan, NWPF's Volunteer Director of Engagement, to hear her thoughts on living with Parkinson's, the HOPE Conference and volunteering with NWPF. 

How long have you been diagnosed with PD? How did it affect your life?

TH: I was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s in 2006 when I was 49 years old. It was shocking since I’ve always been extremely healthy. I didn’t want to talk about my disease because I didn’t want to be defined by it. I continued to work until May 2010, when I couldn’t keep up with the demands of the job due to the disease.

How did you get involved in NWPF? Did it bring any change to your life?

TH: I can’t even tell how much it has changed my life for the better. I became active with NWPF because I wanted to help other people with Parkinson’s. Before I started volunteering with NWPF, I wanted to help people learn about PD, especially right after their diagnosis. The wealth of information out there can be very overwhelming. It’s tough to sort through it and figure out what affects you personally. According to feedback from people I talk to, they find it very helpful to talk to people who actually have Parkinson’s and know what it is like. So I continued doing that but there wasn’t a structure to it until I heard Steve Wright, the Executive Director of NWPF, speaking at a wellness conference. Steve wanted to start a peer-to-peer support program that sounded like what I was doing. I was so excited and asked him to pick me for the steering committee members in order to set up the program. Now PD Link Northwest is a huge success and had 376 active participants from 2014 to 2015!

13450131813 Ba555e4858 B

Working with NWPF basically has opened the door for me, it has changed my life 100%. I am now volunteering with them all year round. When I think about how NWPF has impacted me, I think about two quotes. One comes from Davis Phinney, the author of Every Victory Counts: “I can’t control that I have Parkinson’s, but I can control how I live with Parkinson’s.” The other one comes from actress Annette Funicello, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” I like these two quotes because they embody the way I choose to live my life and the way I volunteer with NWPF. I think one has to concentrate on living his/her life to the best way that is possible. It changed my life, because I am much more active right now. Volunteering with this organization has been certainly giving me more than I am giving it.

How did you get involved in HOPE Conference? What role(s) are you playing?

HopeconfTH: My role in the HOPE Conference has evolved. Last year was the first year I started volunteering for the HOPE Conference doing the regular volunteer work such as providing general information at the NWPF vendor table. This year, I will be coordinating the volunteer group that consists of approximately 20 people for the HOPE Conference. Basically, the scope of what I am doing for the conference is expanding.

What’s your favorite part(s) regarding previous HOPE Conferences?

TH: It is imperative to have things available to people in the Parkinson’s community and particularly to people who have been newly diagnosed. An interesting fact about people with PD is that everyone has unique symptoms, medication responses or even progressions, just like there are no fingerprints that are exactly the same. Thus, I believe having information that specifically deals with various problems that come with PD available is particularly helpful to patients.
And it is very reassuring to know there is a community of people out there who you can talk to. I learned this when I finally started going to the Yoga for Parkinson’s classes. I resisted going at first, but I found out that not only is there no judgement, people in the community have mutual understanding of each other. My favorite parts of the HOPE Conference are, therefore, being able to interact with people in the community and getting the latest information from the speakers and tables. To me, the HOPE Conference should be exactly what the name says. You should come away with hope and knowledge about the support that’s available to people with Parkinson’s.

Terry Harrigan Doing Yoga

What’s the highlight of this year’s conference? Which part(s) seem(s) exciting to you?

TH: There are the speakers, like Dr. Daniel Weintraub MD, who are internationally reputable experts in their fields, I believe that their speeches will be extraordinary! And the varieties of the breakout sessions are thrilling. Moreover, at the HOPE Conference, you end up talking to people, exchanging information and developing mutual understanding in the community.

Is there anything you’d like to say to newcomers not sure if they should come to HOPE?

TH: Come to the Conference! I won’t say it will necessarily change your life exactly like it did mine, but it will absolutely change the way you perceive your diagnosis. Since the conference itself is positive and inspirational, it can help you live up to your best quality of life.

I think Dr. Nan Little exemplifies the spirit of the HOPE Conference. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro after her diagnosis with PD. Another great example is Tim Hague Sr., last year’s keynote speaker, who won Amazing Race Canada after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I’ve never seen a speaker who was so electrifying that personified the HOPE Conference. There are so many people who have achieved incredible things and they can inspire you to live your best as well. I probably would never be able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro like Nan Little did, but I can volunteer my time to benefit the PD community in my own way!

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. I am not happy because I have Parkinson’s, I am happy in spite of having Parkinson’s. I’ve made a conscious decision to live my life the best way I can!

Interview conducted by NWPF Intern Yiran Shi

Recent Posts

Parkinson's Pain by Proxy
Autoimmune Diseases
The Most Interesting Men in the World
What Dreams May Come…
Book Review: on Carrying the Black Bag

Archives

2017 2016
Lies That Parkinson's Disease Told Me
Managing the Holiday Blues 2016
Who Was That Masked Man?
The Rain Is Shining — A Thanksgiving Message
Book Review - H.O.P.E.: Four Keys to a Better Quality of Life for Parkinson's
David Leventhal: Dancer, Teacher, Community Leader, Humanitarian, Movement Specialist
Meet Emily!
Rhonda Foulds, Outrunning Parkinson's Disease
Book Review: The Perapatetic Pursuit of Parkinson Disease
Staff Stories - Melanie
Snake Oil, the Cure for Parkinson's.
Book Review: Nan Little
Life's a Lot Better with NWPF
Tipping Points
Book Review: Natural Therapies for Parkinson's Disease
Dare to Attend a Support Group
Ten for David
Time After Time: Kim Farmer's Story
The Glass is Half-Full
Book Review: Reverse Parkinson's Disease
Contentment
Parkinson's and Free Will
A positive attitude is everything
Book Review - Lucky Man: A Memoir
Alexithymia, the Parkinson’s Get Out of Jail Free Card
We Make Them Together: Major Decisions in Caregiving
Boxing is cool
Safety with Style: House Renovations you can hold on to
Book review: On My Own
Shaken to the Core
Isolation and Parkinson's Disease, The hiding and the hidden
Camp Brian Interview
Safety with Style: House design ideas you can hold on to
Book review: Shake Well Before Use
Notes on Acceptance
"Advice" to a person with Advancing Parkinson's Disease
Needed: New Parkinson’s Vocabulary
Caregiving: Ken's Story
A Well-Tested Testimonial, or Spin for Parkinson's
Safety with Style: House design ideas you can hold on to
Caregiving: Susan's Story
Rock Steady Boxing: Emily
Book Review: My Degeneration, A Journey Through Parkinson's
The Marble Halls of Power
Safety with Style: House design ideas you can hold on to
2015
ROCKIN’ AROUND THE GROCERY CART
Managing the Holiday Blues
Book Review: A Complete Guide for Patients and Families
The joke is on Parkinson's
I don't always like groups, but when I do...
JBC + DBS: A Mostly-Love Story (Continued)
Rock Steady Boxing: Fred Hyde
Present Moment: A Continued Conversation
Book Review: Navigating Life with Parkinson's Disease
JBC + DBS: A Mostly-Love Story
Present Moment
On the scent of Parkinson’s disease
Harold Allen (Hal) Newsom
The 2016 World Parkinson’s Congress in Portland, Oregon is Fast Approaching: Make Plans to Attend
Flowers on Dr. Starr's Tie
Leading the life of malicious whimsy
Listen: Unlocking Parkinson's Disease
Book Review: If I Can Climb Kilimanjaro, Why Can't I Brush My Teeth?
The Evolution of HOPE
QUIZ: How well do you know your Parkinson’s Disease?
Living with Hope
Notes on Hope
Tug, tug, tug
Denial on Trial
Flowers in Our Hair
Resilience: Bouncing Back from Adversity
Summer Travel
Tina Sawyer Steps Up Fundraising in Seaside
The uncooperative patient
To be in June
Pressure Sores
Caring for a Spouse Living with PD
Life Lessons
Doc Parkinson - A Eulogy
Boom Go Parkinson’s Costs
From the Depths of the Cupboards: Pumpkin Bars
Doctor's Visits
Get Moving!
Choosing a shared burden
Our Brain's "Negativity Bias" Part 2
Outside of Language
Managing Constipation in Parkinson’s Disease
Replacements
Finding Time for Caregiver Care
The Helplessness Antidote
Examples of living your best
10 exercise tips for people with Parkinson's
Bit on Basketball
Suggestions for the Shaken
Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) Report
Our Brain’s “Negativity Bias”
Living for a Cure
Three Huge Changes for People with Parkinson's
Caregiving, the Next Level
Parkinson's Pundit
Perseverance
Making Spousal Relationships Work
Parkinson’s and Luck
Strength. Courage.
Resolve to be a Better Caregiver!
Update from the Parkinson's Action Network
Strategies to Achieve our New Year’s Resolutions and Goals
Movement is Medicine
2014 2013 2012
Most popular posts of 2012
What are you grateful for this holiday season?
How can I tell whether medications are wearing off or Parkinson’s disease is progressing?
Can a person with Parkinson’s give blood?
When is the right time to start Levodopa?
Can acupuncture help PD symptoms?
Support the Caregiver in your Life
Power of the mind to move treatment further
Top 10 Foods for Parkinson’s (and counting!)
How can I prevent dizziness?
What can you tell me about laser light therapy and Parkinson’s
What is music therapy?
Should I take Coenzyme Q10 for my Parkinson’s?
How do I treat my cough at night?
Parkinson’s fitness programs need to be tailored to the individual to get results
Carrying the Olympic Torch for Parkinson’s today
Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s. What about other foods?
Facts about depression
How can I find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about PD and is caring as well? My doctor does not always listen.
Help for constipation
Sex, Intimacy and Parkinson’s
Does DBS affect speech?
Walking and balance can significantly impact quality of life- but is treatable.
Depression is common with Parkinson’s
Ode to Parkinson’s- Poem from Member
Music Enhances Brain Activity
How does posture change with Parkinson’s?
What is important to you?
Are hallucinations caused by Parkinson’s?
Hot Off the Press – Neupro approved by FDA
How do I find a Parkinson’s physical therapist to keep me exercising?
Does Azilect slow disease progression?
Manage nausea from medicines
Is delaying medication harmful?
Advice for newly diagnosed
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
Medication Timing
Is gambling a side effect of medicine?
Medication Assistance
Does stress cause Parkinson’s?
When to see a physical therapist
FDA approves DATScan
Coconut Oil
Protein’s effect on medicine
Restless Leg Syndrome