“A woman is strong because she has been weak; she is beautiful because she knows her own faults; and lives without fear because once she was afraid.”
As we draw near the end of another year, I am prone to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly that which has greatly impacted my life. Not everything that touches us or makes us who we are is necessarily good or at least not on the surface.
This year has been a year of great losses for many of us as well as great victories. Is my experience that these usually go hand in hand. The triumphs allow us to get through the sorrows and hardships while the devastating moments make the victories that much sweeter.
The year started strong with me finally getting better after last year’s pulmonary embolism and TIA (mini stroke) which took me nearly 6 months to fully recover.
Then it suddenly took a turn for the worst with my best friend being diagnoses with stage 4 cancer! a week after we had made all kinds of plans for the year…
Got to travel to DC see old friends, make new friends, and even meet a few celebrities such as MJFox while advocating for changes in public policy to improve research funding, and better more affordable health care at Capitol Hill.
Traveled to a new country with my husband and daughter and found the perfect city that made my hair look fabulous because there was no humidity. Who knew my hair could look good first thing in the morning?
After much prayer and seven long months of grueling chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, my friend is finally cancer free- confirming that miracles still exist!
Saw two of my nieces and nephews graduate – one doing a master and one started college and i got to play the fun Tia (aunt) role throwing parties and even traveling with my niece to her new university. Since it all is connected somehow, I got to meet my new friends (Kate & Chris) at Health Union where I am now a contributing author on the health communities of http://www.migraine.com and http://www.parkinsonsdisease.net; where I am cherishing the opportunity to work with like minded individuals who are just as passionate about making a difference in someones world. For me doing something that I love doing aside from Parkinson is also a huge plus.
Let’s not forget that this year, we celebrated 200 year’s since Dr. James Parkinson annotated his observation on a disease we now call by his name. As such, I was a part of a huge campaign to bring PD awareness to the Hispanic community in this country by appearing on sites like Dr. Isabel show on Univision and was broadcasted around the country through the radio to several Spanish speaking station from Texas to Florida, Georgia and the Carolina’s. Plus, I now can boast of having two published books with my latest Spanish book on PD – Viviendo mas alla del parkinson was recently published.
Of course before the summer was over, I was down for over two months with a viral infection after seeing my doctor the day before, where he complimented my good health and said i did not need to see him till next year. Famous last words! this little viral infection caused me to miss my opportunity to travel to South Dakota. Fortunately, I was able to at least virtually meet a few of them including saying hi to my friends whom I like to call ‘the Mary’s!’
Lost an old friend and regained an old friend. But, as I was driving around the other day dropping off and chauffeuring my daughter and classmates all over the place I realized is not such a bad life. Sure I can’t multitask to save my life, can’t remember even my own name a couple of hours after taking amantadine or even where I opened a bank account – “at some bank on a corner street”, I told my husband. “Which corner?”, he asked extremely perplexed since there is one in nearly every corner. “I don’t know,” I said. “I am pretty sure I will know when I see it.” Not comforting words to my husband or any other man.
I get frustrated easily and my goodness the heat is unbearable dripping droplets of water from my forehead on a regular basis but not a drop of fat lost- husband’s theory is that my body is conserving its nutrients because I seem to go into starvation mode for a few days at a time when my gastroparesis is at its peak. At any rate, I have learned to appreciate my curves and the moments when I am totally ‘me’ feeling as good as any young healthy person would – for which my husband has dubbed my life as the Curious Case of Maria D. When I am on top of my game and not choking on my own saliva and not tripping over myself or running over the garage- I seem to be getting younger and stronger in his eyes!
Perhaps, I am not afraid of PD because I was once consumed with fear of the unknown; it no longer has a strong hold over me. Thanks to PD, I have learned to be more forgiving of mine and others shortcomings and have learned when to rely on my strengths and when to ask for help because I am weak- which happens a lot. I constantly get inspiration from strong, independent, beautiful, intelligent Hispanic Women who happen to be icons in their own fields such as Isabel Allende, Carolina Herrera. i identify with the latter because she began her career in her 40’s, at an age when I too had to make a new transition in my life from physician/clinician to writer/motivational speaker and most important of all patient advocate. And like her, I believe that fashion is an outward expression of ourselves free and unencumbered. But, the best garment any woman can wear is knowledge.
Aside from all this things for which I am truly grateful, one of the greatest gifts and joys has been able to share my journey with all of you.
Thank you & Happy Holidays to everyone!
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon