Could I be optimistic in the face of disease?

I have to admit that I’m not a super optimistic person. I’m sarcastic, snarky, and while I believe there is good in people, I see a lot of bad things working for a newspaper.

Sometimes I find myself wondering how I’d deal with having a disease like Parkinson’s.

If you’ve read anything about our family and my Dad, you know that he’s super optimistic about life and Parkinson’s. He did an interview this week where he told someone with the Michael J Fox Foundation that the only person more optimistic than him was the man’s boss — Michael J Fox. He also told the interviewer that if he had to do it all again, he’d want Parkinson’s because it makes him a better person (something my mom has said about him, too).

I have restless leg syndrome (because I’m a silly old man apparently), and sometimes I notice that my left hand shakes. Normally it’s associated with being exhausted, hungry or stress. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.)

I can’t help to wonder – What if I have it, too?

Dad’s also done 23 and Me , where he sent a cheek swab and it looked at his DNA. It analyzed everything about him and told him the likelihood that he would get certain ailments — cancer, heart disease, etc.

I wanted to submit my saliva to add to the database for Parkinson’s profiling, but Dad said not to. For him, it was interesting because it laid out a lot of his family’s medical history.  I don’t think I could know what I’m likely to have. I’d be scared.

I’m already scared when I see the people around me who are sick. A co-worker with cancer. Another co-worker whose young nephew has cancer, too.

It’s already real to me. I’ve lost plenty of people to disease. Parkinson’s is real for me. I’ve met so many wonderful people I want to help cure with my father.

I’d like to believe that if I were one of those people, too, I would be optimistic. I would be doing as much as my dad. I would be heroically fighting for a cure.

Maybe it’s facing something like that can make you that brave. Or maybe it’s enough to bravely stand behind those you love.

I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

How have you or how do you think you would react to news of a disease diagnosis?


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