This week, we've invited our YOPD Council leaders (Amy, Steve, Gaynor, Kat, Tom, Erin, Heather, and Kevin) to take over the blog and share their stories. We hope you're as inspired by them as we are.
Interview with Kat Hill, Davis Phinney Foundation YOPD Council Leader
Kat Hill, a Davis Phinney Foundation YOPD Council Leader, was in her mid-40s when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. “It took me a good two to three months to get it in my head that it was something real,” she says. “And then I realized I had a choice. I could continue to lay around and minimize my symptoms, but that got pretty old. And self-pity wasn’t really a good fit for me.”
Check out Kat’s story of how she processed her diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s, started a wildly successful support group, built gratitude into her daily life, and became part of the Davis Phinney Foundation YOPD Council.
“We only get one life. We all have our challenges. But we still have the opportunity to live our lives. To stop that because of a diagnosis is a loss.”
- When Kat was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she was in her mid-40s and busy with a career as the director of a midwifery service and delivering babies at an intercity hospital. She was also raising three teenagers and caring for her mother.
- “I was sleep-deprived from being up delivering babies all night, and I blew off symptoms for a very long time—fatigue, a little bit of shakiness, internal tremor,” she says. “I would notice when running that my foot would drag, but I blamed it on being tired or needing new shoes.”
- She went to the doctor for tests when her hand started tremoring and received the Parkinson’s diagnosis. “I was shocked. I had been in denial big time.”
- She quickly became involved with support groups in her local area. Although she loved the people at the meetings, there weren’t people there going through similar experiences as a person with young onset Parkinson’s. She and the one other young woman at the meeting decided to start their own support group, which has been popular since its beginning more than three years ago. “The sense of community we’ve built with this group has been invaluable,” she says.
- Kat became interested in joining the YOPD Council because she remembered what it was like to be newly diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s. “We all need community, and if you feel like you don’t have that, there’s one here for you. Don’t feel alone. You aren’t alone.”
- “After a Parkinson’s diagnosis, the picture may be really different from what you planned. But it can be rich. It can be beautiful. It can be dream-fulfilling. It just might be different than you planned.”
You can find more from Kat at kathill.org/author/kathieshill.
WANT TO learn more about the yopd Council?
You can register for the entire YOPD Council series here. We meet on the third Thursday of every month to discuss the unique challenges of living with YOPD.