Contemplating a Career Change With Parkinson’s

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by Lori DePorter |

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Receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis immediately prompts a cascade of questions encompassing all aspects of life, including career choices. This can be especially challenging with young-onset Parkinson’s disease.

What will I look like? Will I be able to care for myself and my family? Should I keep my diagnosis private? Can I still do my job, or can I find a job? It’s like a waterfall, and you are standing at the bottom trying to keep your head above rising water.

The answers are personal, and none are right or wrong. I never thought about keeping my diagnosis private. My Parkinson’s was going to chart its course. However, I was going to be the captain of my Parkinson’s ship, and I wanted to help others do the same.

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My first change was becoming an advocate for exercise. With the support of my family and staff at a local gym, we started Parkinson’s Fitness and Wellness of York and a Rock Steady Boxing chapter. Over two years, I became a Rock Steady Boxing coach and personal trainer. I found a purpose with both engineering and Parkinson’s on my résumé. While I didn’t realize it at the time, there were more doors to open — I just had to find them.

In July 2019, fellow Parkinson’s News Today columnist Jean Mellano recommended my blog, “Dance Like No One Is Watching,” to her editor here at BioNews, the parent company of this site. Honestly, I was terrified at the idea of interviewing for the first time in over 15 years, but I decided to give it a shot. My blog opened an unexpected door, my career path took another turn, and I became a writer.

BioNews didn’t look away from Parkinson’s on my résumé, they embraced it. They allow me and others with chronic illnesses to unapologetically be ourselves. While sharing our stories — the good, the bad, and everything in between — we empower others. And in doing so, we empower ourselves.

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of “Life, Lemons, and Lemonade” and my first published column for Parkinson’s News Today. Along with my friends and family, my fellow BioNews team members and my fitness family are constants in my life. I may be the captain of my Parkinson’s ship, but they are my lighthouse guiding me when I feel lost.

Finding a job can be frustrating. You may have to knock on countless doors before the right one opens, but stick with it. Your lighthouse is out there, you just need to find it.

(A bit of BioNews trivia: The editor who interviewed me to write about being a parent with young-onset Parkinson’s disease is younger than my oldest son.)

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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