Adjust Text Size:change font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font size

Participant Information

Jackie Barzely


Being diagnosed with "Parkinson's" four years ago, at the age of 47, was a shock and a wakeup call for me. I was totally unprepared, although I knew something was wrong and had been having tests for a while.

In my childhood and youth I was a competitive gymnast, and sport and movement had always been a big and important part of my life. The idea that the strongest area of my life was to become my weakness was hard to digest and made me analyze my life and take control instead of just drifting.

First, I became a mature student and enrolled in a 3-year course, called "Natural Nutrition." This is something I wanted to do and had put off for years. I faced a lot of challenges learning in Hebrew which is not my mother tongue, traveling to and fro, and not letting the affects of the illness hold me back. I'm now at the end of my second year, and slowly but surely I'm reaching my goal to qualify and work as a "Natural Dietitian."

This disease opened up a flood of emotions from deep inside and has left me no choice than to face them, feel them, and at the same time find an inner peace and be realistic about my situation.

The actual poetry writing started when I decided to separate from my husband of 24 years (we started having problems before I was diagnosed; he couldn't come to terms with my illness so the stress was making me worse). We weren't really communicating so the actual writing helped me face my situation and search for answers.

Unable to sleep at nights (like most people with Parkinson's), I would find myself in front of the computer screen writing and examining my options. This gives me strength and today I am also writing about things that don't always directly affect me. I also have a close group of friends that are my audience and feedback.

As a mother of 4, I feel that even with the illness, I am passing on to them a positive message as a woman, a mother and a human being. Also living in a less stressful atmosphere my illness is under control and I am no longer stuck but moving forward.

The "Parkinson's" has actually strengthened me both emotionally and intellectually and is continually opening new doors for me. It's very important to me to contribute and I plan to carry on doing so in many ways.

Living in Israel is often a challenge on its own, but here on the kibbutz in the Negev Desert where I live, I feel accepted, appreciated and often even looked up to.