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Jennifer Suarez

I enrolled in college because I was laid off and wanted to begin a new career. My goal was to become a tax preparer and book keeper, but shortly after classes started I developed tremors and stiffness. I was scared when a movement specialist sat me down to tell me I had Parkinson’s disease. I immediately researched Parkinson’s on the internet and thought, “What If I get worse? How would I take care of my family?”

I had been excited to go to college because I wanted to be self-employed to better take care of my family, who depended on me. I continued attending school, not knowing how difficult it would become for me. I soon realized that I needed help typing and taking notes. Asking for help was especially hard for me since I was always independent and the head of my household.

I was suddenly hit with an immense amount of responsibility. At the same time I started college and was diagnosed with PD, my niece and nephew moved in with me full-time. I now had two more mouths to feed, but I was happy to have them living with me. All this was in addition to taking care of my father, who has end stage renal failure, but thankfully, is still with me today.

I was determined to not let Parkinson’s interfere with my ability to take care of my family. My determination kept me going. I could not let PD defeat me. I learned to ask for help and discovered how to deal with this disease. I found a medication regimen that works and keep reminding myself that I can still get things done, just at a slower pace.

But I did it. I found a way to cope. I am especially proud to say that I graduated college in May of 2015. Along the way I cried many times and asked God “Why me?” What kept me going was the love and support from my family and friends, in addition to knowing that I would soon be able to single-handedly improve my family’s quality of life.

One quote, by author Dan Brown helped me push on, "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

The one thing I know to be true is that people need a support team, especially people with PD. There is hope and tons of help, you just have to ask. Remember to not give up. You can get through this. 

 

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