Sarah (Zenner) Dolan
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 at age 51, after experiencing a tremor in my right hand and bothersome rigidity in my right leg. While trying to take piano lessons seven years prior, I clearly remember noticing that the fingers on my right hand wouldn’t cooperate. My historically excellent handwriting was also taking a turn. I began a handwriting program, thinking I was using a keyboard too much and needed to exercise my hand. Every day for three months, I filled a notebook page with, “A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Finally, after being considered a “regular” for years, when I had to drop out of intense spin classes due to adductor rigidity, I knew I needed to talk to a doctor.
The diagnosis came as a no-brainer for the doctor, but I wasn’t convinced until I had a second and third physician opinion. They all agreed. I had Parkinson’s. I immediately enrolled in a clinical trial, connected with young people in my community living with Parkinson’s, joined a Rock Steady Boxing class, and ramped up my exercise regimen. Surrounding myself with a wide variety of activities, interests, and people, and pushing myself beyond what I might otherwise be more comfortable doing, has certainly kept me healthier and likely slowed the progression of my symptoms.
Because of my progressing Parkinson’s symptoms, I had to retire very early from a rewarding career working with people living with ultra-rare genetic diseases. It was that community of superstar life-lovers who modeled how to map out a fulfilling life with Parkinson’s.
Living well with Parkinson’s is fueled by making memories with my husband and three children, riding my bike and horses, boxing, taking Pilates classes, reading, and cooking. I am most excited to help others advocate for themselves and push forward into a rich and rewarding life living with Parkinson’s.