My PD Story

Melinda Hermanns and her daughter
Family Members

Melinda Hermanns

I vividly recall the hot summer day in 2001 when my sweet Mom and I sat in the neurologist’s office and heard those life-changing words, "You have Parkinson’s disease." At first, we were in shock and disbelief, but once we had time to process, it felt like the missing puzzle piece had finally been found.

Looking back 10 years prior, there were early signs we missed. Mom would joke about "stubbing her toe" or “dragging her leg” while walking, and we would laugh it off as clumsiness, a trait we shared. She also mentioned feeling tired early in the day and experiencing shoulder pain, but we attributed it to her busy lifestyle, caring for her parents and a toddler, and being active indoors and out.

The diagnosis, though unexpected, brought a strange sense of relief. It gave us a name for the symptoms and a path for treatment. We knew life would change and we were ready to navigate this journey together, one day at a time.

Mom did not let Parkinson’s stop her from doing the things she loved, like painting. She switched from oils to charcoal, pencil, pen and watercolor, adapting to her new reality while keeping her passion alive.

Mom was a talented artist, piano and guitar player, singer/songwriter, poet, genealogist, and so much more. As her Parkinson’s progressed, she required more help with daily tasks, and I embraced the role of caregiving doing my best to honor her independence while attending to her needs. While the journey was not always easy, our faith and love carried us through the physical and emotional challenges.

Sadly, my sweet Mom passed away but her legacy lives on through me. As a Parkinson’s Foundation Ambassador, I embrace opportunities to share her story to increase awareness, educate, and inspire others.

If Mom were here, she would encourage everyone to not give up, stay active/busy, and continue to pursue your passions recognizing that things might be different, and that’s okay. Make accommodations, listen to your body, and give yourself grace, just as she did with her art.

Mom lived by taking each day as it came, never comparing life before and after Parkinson’s, always staying busy and looking forward. Her final advice was simple yet profound, "If you don’t have peace, find it." Those words guide me every day.

Explore all stages of the care partner journey and practical tips that can help along the way with our resources.

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