Women & PD: by Maria De Leon

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My thoughts regarding my life with Parkinson’s as an MDS  mirrors those of a great warrior when she quipped  “it feels as if this life is not my life. It is a second life. People have prayed to God to spare my life and I was spared for a reason. To help others”…(with the same struggles)- MalalaIMG_1996


It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote down my reflections and introspection; but for a change rather than musing out loud I have been amusing myself meeting so many wonderful, valiant women with PD around the country. These women from Hawaii to Arizona have inspired me to continue advocating for women all around the world. They are evidence that the well rooted common public opinion regarding women as the “weak” sex should be reconsidered. Especially, when it comes to the notion of how women living with Parkinson’s should act within the realm of this progressive degenerative illness. Yes, it is true that still we have a great deal of work to do when at least a third of the world still treats women as property and as second class citizens; yet among each culture and ethnic background we find examples of women who are courageous beyond measure who are willing to stand up not only for themselves but for others. Women like Malala who despite her young age, she was willing to put herself in harms ways in order to defy conventional wisdom and the abhorrent treatment of women in her country earning her the Nobel Peace even at such a young age. Her story reminds us that a strong voice in the midst of adversity and imperceptible roar cannot be silenced.IMG_2001

Although, we are not in this country by any means putting ourselves necessarily in the path of death, as some women in other parts of the world are, trying to alter common place treatment of women within the medical confines – still takes a certain amount of bravery. To go against the firmly held beliefs of the masses requires discipline, fortitude, and incredible conviction …

As we are on the heels of Parkinson’s awareness month- I want to  encourage all women who live with PD on a daily basis to remember that their story is also my own. Thus, I am not unique in any fashion or form all I do is encourage other women to become empowered with knowledge and become self advocates of their own destiny and health care. There is great power in togetherness and standing unified in a cause for the betterment of all women and their health issues with PD. No longer do you as a woman with PD should face challenges alone unique to your gender since half of the population is of female gender.

Things to remember about PD in women –IMG_1982

  • Women tend to be diagnosed at least two years later
  • Hormones play a role – since early hysterectomy increases the risk of PD but also women who are menstruating have worse symptoms of PD during their menses and their period alternatively worsens due to having Parkinson’s
  • Women experience more dyskenisias than men; this could be due to increase sensitivity to side effects as most women are more sensitive to similar doses given to men but also because of the weight difference (more body fat in women- causing medications to linger longer in body)  and metabolism difference.
  • Women have more depression and men have more behavioral problems
  • Women although have less dementia then men they have worst quality of life overall. Perhaps, because they also have increased risk of strokes.

However, there is an increase in hope since women are beginning to bond and find ways to support one another, lift each other up and  advocate together for changes in the diagnosis and treatment of women with PD. For this reason we are working on getting a women support round table at this year’s WPC in Portland. Let me know if you are planning on going!!

Soon we will have flyers that you can share with others regarding  the issues women with PD face. Two sources already  exists – one is with http://www.pdf.org  and “life in balance” a newsletter for people & families living with PD provided by Parkinson’s support solutions (Azilect program) issue 1-2016 – http://www.parkinsonssupportsolutions.com ; 1-866-880-8582

 Join the team. Together we can #endParkinsons.



Gathering of the PD Goddesses: By Maria De Leon

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Calling all the Parkinson’s goddesses and divas out there..

I am glad to say that we are finally making waves in this world of PD. As more institutions are beginning to address the issues relevant to us women living with Parkinson’s disease. So many of us have felt marginalized by this illness which can sometimes rob us of our independence as well as our dignity. We have lived in the shadows for too long feeling ordinary. But, I am here to say that as I live and breath and battle with this neurological disease as so many of you do I have found the strength, thanks to my “Parkinson’s Diva” fellows and supporters, to transform myself. My physical appearance nor has my diseased changed but one day I just woke up and voila!…I had become a full fledged Parkinson’s Diva.

After spending many years worrying about my curves, my hair, my thighs, and so many other physical imperfections as well as fretting over my career… I have found that having PD has had a liberating effect on me. Looking at the mirror, I am fully at peace with everything about myself even those pesky grey hairs and even though I walk slower, not as graceful and my smile is sometimes a bit crooked I feel blessed and irrationally radiant!

Yes!, this may be the dopamine making me a bit manic since  most people would agree that I am only “a legend in my own mind.” However, the friendships I have forged along this journey are real. Perhaps, it is true that “birds of a feather DO flock together!” if that’s the case I am glad that there are a lot of other divas out there – legends in their own mind as well. But, the truth is that I have been gathering divas for a long time-  we have cried together, laughed together, been broken up and put back together, giving, sharing, caring and loving one another has made us all sisters of the same plight and because each and everyone of you are strong and courageous and infinitely capable of making a 101 dishes with the lemons life has thrown your way – you my friends are goddesses in deed!

So no matter where you go, just listen for the buzzing of camaraderie among women with PD  who have shared tears of joy mixed with sorrow fighting for another opportunity to reinvent themselves; there you will see greatness!

In the end we must remember the word’s of one of my favorite poet’s  and a grand- goddess herself, Maya Angelou who quipped: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it!”



P.s. I am extra happy since I found out that my book which bears this blogs name ” Parkinson’s diva: a woman’s  guide to Parkinson’s Disease.” will be available at WPC2016