This is Emily Harmon’s first post about finding out Dad had Parkinson’s and her message to those in the same boat as her.
It was my junior year in college. I came home for spring break. I was thinking of what I would be doing in several months — out in the real world. Getting a job, an apartment, living the dream as a college graduate. A few days into the trip, my parents and I were eating dinner on the back porch. My dad turned to me when we were finished eating and said, “there is something I need to tell you. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”
Being a science major, I understood the chemistry behind the disease. We sat there for a few hours, my dad explaining that he wasn’t going to die from PD, but with it. Then I was told that I couldn’t say anything to my sister, Kate, so they could tell her in person a
few weeks later. I put on a brave face, but the second I went into my room and closed the door behind me, I broke down and cried for most of the night.
The next few weeks were tough because I went back to school in a daze — pretty sad — but I couldn’t discuss my new reality with the one person who was in the same boat as me.
Kate recently wrote that I am the “strong one” of the family. When Kate finally found out and I heard the pain in her voice, I decided then and there that I would be the rock for my parents and twin.
Once I graduated and moved back home for a little, I noticed a change in my dad’s attitude toward PD. My whole family joined him in his fight. We all decided to make his diagnosis a positive thing for our family.
During the first golf tournament to raise money for the Michael J Fox Foundation, my dad got up to speak to the 200+ people that were joining our fight. As he spoke about his journey, I began crying (and not the pretty kind) with pride that from his diagnosis my
father decided not to lay down, but to fight with every fiber of his being for himself and all those that have PD.
I had only seen my father cry a handful of times, but now his tears are full of hope and promise to bring the awareness and support needed to find a cure. And we will find a cure!
So, to all the children of those with PD, you are not alone. You are not helpless. There is hope alive in all of us for our parents and all those we meet through our parents that are affected by PD. Let us come together, to fight, to support, to bring awareness.