My name is Karen Anderson, I moved to Oregon in 1973 from California.  I have 2 living children; my oldest passed away in 2010, and also have 2 stepchildren.  Roger and I married in 1987 and two years later he was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease.  We both became very active in the Parkinson’s community in the Portland area with Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, also spent time with PAN until Roger needed more of my time.  I started as a facilitator for a Parkinson’s Care Partner Support group in 2008 and am still facilitating after my husband passed away in April.  I enjoy getting together with my friends every week.  One of my favorite hobbies is crocheting and knitting.  This fall I will try my hand at quilting.  Life is getting simpler now; I think about my husband every day but do not wish him back struggling with Parkinson’s.

My husband Roger was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 2 years after our marriage, 27 years ago.  It became our life.  He never let it get him down, which I truly admire.  Roger passed away on April 10, 2014 from bone cancer, 32 days after that diagnosis.

I had been a facilitator for a PD Care Partner Support Group for the last several years.  Upon his death, someone asked me if I was going to give that up.  What a shock, I never in my life thought that I would have to give up that wonderful group.  After all they became my lifelong friends and my own support.  The answer was a “NO”.  The group was relieved and I felt happy.

I felt I could offer a lot more now, after all I have been there from the diagnosis, daily struggles and death.  I found I had so much empathy for these friends.  And they always want to know how I am doing, without them, I wouldn’t be very well.  

Now during our groups I see the tears, the laughter the comradery that the group brings.  I always leave feeling like “that was a good meeting”!  The hugs that follow are most comforting.  During our meeting, I have started writing down the daily struggles with PD, the tips, how to survive.  We all feel that the mobility is the least of the problems with our spouses; COGNITIVE seems top on the list, and watching the decline, a sense of grieving for all of us.  

Within our group, we have had 5 deaths of our partners, which brings the reality of how important we are to each other.  We continue to offer support through the good times and bad times.  We have all said that PD sucks, but it has brought each one of us together forever.

We now have a “Movin’ On” group, a social group that comprises of PD widows. No formal meeting,  but to cheer each other on!  I don’t like Parkinson’s but I love the people in my life.  Thank you, everyone for offering support to me and to others in our group.

Posted: 9/29/2014 5:38:07 AM by Cathy Whitlock

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