Jillian Carson Dreams Big By Serving People with Parkinson’s

Jillian Carson participates in pedaling for Parkinson's

Written by Jillian Carson for the Davis Phinney Foundation Dream Big series

What does “dreaming big” mean to you?

‘Plan for more than you can do, then do it.
Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.
Hitch your wagon to a star
Keep your seat, and there you are! Go to It!’

My father would say this to us when we were kids. I remember that it was usually in response to comments like ‘Why?’, ‘There’s nothing to do’, ‘We’re bored’ and ‘I can’t do that!’

When I think about dreaming big, I think of that little poem that rolled off his tongue so often. And it’s taken on even more significance since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. My dad wanted us to believe that our dreams were with the stars in the big sky and we could do anything we wanted to do. We just had to want to do it.

How did your dreams and personal goals change after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

Immediately after I was diagnosed, I thought I had to give up all of my dreams. The only thing I wished for was a cure. My future plans at that time seemed to be lost in a maze that I couldn’t figure out. I didn’t want to do anything, I isolated myself and depression set in.

Once I got involved with the Parkinson’s community and attended The Victory Summit® event in Las Vegas, I started coming out of the darkness. I remembered the importance my parents placed on getting involved and staying connected to others… even when it’s hard. And even when you don’t really feel like it. They were right. Once I decided to get involved with others on a similar path, the rest fell into place.

I began to embrace the idea that dreaming big didn’t mean I had to let go of everything I wanted or everything I had worked toward, just because I had Parkinson’s. My path was just going to look a little different.

I changed from being an orthopedic physical therapist to being a neurological physical therapist. I didn’t lose anything. I still have the skills I need. It’s just that now I get to share them with my Parkinson’s community, both locally and globally.

And what I am most excited about now is that after four years of very hard work, the Parkinson Wellness Project will open its doors on May 1, 2018. This is a BIG dream I’ve had for so long and I can’t wait to share this wellness center in BC with other people with Parkinson’s.

What would you say to a fellow person with Parkinson’s who might be afraid to “dream big”?

Yes, the diagnosis knocks the wind out of you; however, getting involved with others and dreaming big will change your life and theirs too.

If your dreaming big skills could use a refresher, participate in a Victory Summit event is coming to you! You’ll receive all the tools you need (and more) to dream big again.

Jillian Carson BScPT
Chair parkinsonwellnessproject.org
Co-Chair WPC2019 Ambassadors Kyoto

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