Paying Parkinson’s Forward

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Before you can let go of the life you’ve planned, you need to have a plan. I don’t know many people who plan out their whole life. Rather, they take what’s been given to them and try to make the best of it. However, some sort of plan should be in place at some time in your life or you may never do anything of significance.

Sometimes we wonder if our actions have any significance in the grand scheme of things. This can be especially true with Parkinson’s when you already feel limited in what you can do.

We may have convinced ourselves that because we have Parkinson’s disease, we have nothing left to offer, nothing left to give. That is so very far from the truth. However, if that isn’t true, then why do we find ourselves wondering and sometimes asking the BIG question: “Why?”

Why do I have Parkinson’s disease? Why me? 

Someone asked me that very question once …

Many years ago I was out in my yard and an older man I know walked over. He had recently been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. I had taken a break to restring my weed-eater and had the tailgate down on my son’s truck. He began chatting about this and that and hoisted himself up onto the tailgate to sit down. Our conversation went something like this …

“I’ve been thinking about something lately,” he said, switching subjects. “You know I’ve been going to chemotherapy.”

He paused, waiting for a reply. I shook my head. “Yes.” We had talked about it several times. He continued. 

“I came to ask why you think bad things happen to us? And, why me? Why did God let me have cancer? And why do you have Parkinson’s disease?”

I put the string down and sat next to him on the tailgate. Before I had time to respond to any of his questions, he began to speak again.

“I went for treatment today and there was a woman there. She looked like she had been crying. I asked her if she was OK. She said she was just afraid. She was having her first chemo treatment and she was scared. I told her I had cancer and was there for treatment, too. I asked her if someone had come with her and she said no, she didn’t really have anyone.”

We sat there for several seconds of silence before he began to answer his own questions.

“I gave her my phone number and told her to call me — that my wife and I would be more than happy to bring her and sit with her during her treatment and take her home.

“She started to cry and it hit me. 

“Why not me? 

“Why should I be excluded from bad things? Meeting that woman at the treatment center made me think that maybe we go through stuff so that we can better understand others and what they are going through.”


We can pass on the comfort to others that we received ourselves. We have learned to understand what others are going through because we have gone through something similar. It doesn’t take away the sorrow of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or cancer. But knowing someone beside us understands makes it easier to deal with. 

Paying it forward, as some might say. The blessings we have found in the darkness will help others see the light. All we have to do is share them.


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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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