By Kate Kelsall
In early October, I attended the 3rd World Parkinson Congress in Montreal, Canada. I felt privileged to be among the group of 3,334 people in attendance including neuroscientists, clinicians, allied health professionals, nurses, policy-makers, people living with Parkinson’s (PD), their care partners and families, and others from 64 countries around the globe. At first, I was frightened when I observed 750 people living with PD who moved around the Congress with their shaky limbs and slow and unsteady gait. I was discouraged by the increasing number of people living with PD. At some point, my focus and feelings shifted away from being discouraged and toward being hopeful and inspired.
I was in awe of those who were courageously living with this devastating disease with as much dignity as they could muster. I was delighted to be educated by world-renowned PD experts discussing the most cutting-edge research. I was impressed with the knowledge contained in the 600 scientific and living with PD posters that were submitted. I was tearful as I viewed some of the poignant stories portrayed in the 113 videos submitted. I was excited to see PDF launch its very first Community Choice Research Award.
It was fun to see those in attendance join in activities such as singing, dancing, yoga, and even boxing and racquetball. Their playfulness created an atmosphere of normalcy despite having a disease that often feels “not too normal.” I appreciated that all in attendance were committed to helping those with PD improve the quality of their lives with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. They helped me shift my focus from being discouraged to being hopeful and inspired.
Kate Kelsall of Denver, CO, lives with Parkinson’s and is a PDF Research Advocate. This was adapted from a post on her blog katekelsall.typepad.com. Kate was one of the 50 PDF Research Advocates who joined PDF at the WPC. PDF helped lay the groundwork for the World Parkinson Coalition in 2004 and was a WPC 2013 Silver Sponsor. The next WPC will take place from Tuesday, September 20 through Friday, September 23, 2016, in Portland, OR.