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As part of the research for my book, Trying to Live a Normal Life–The Biography of a Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, I spent the last six years  with 35 men and women– those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.  I’ve been at almost every monthly support group meeting,  informal gatherings, and interviewed many of the members. They’ve come to trust me and have permitted me to write about their lives and their determination to lead as normal a life as possible regardless of the fact the Parkinson’s is stealing their independence. I set out to write this book to understand how they do it and what role their support group plays in helping them live with purpose and joy.

The short answer is that it’s all about mutual trust. (The long answer will be in the book.) Trust that people who participate in this group can talk about anything and others will understand; trust that no one will judge; trust that there’s always someone to listen even if there are no answers.

I completed the manuscript a few weeks ago.

At almost the same time, my husband and I learned that he has a malignant tumor  in his neck which will be removed soon. We’ve been blessed with good health for years and years. Now we’ve joined the millions of others who live with cancer or other chronic diseases–like Parkinson’s.

Since our Parkinson’s friends learned of Bob’s cancer, they’ve gathered around us emotionally and physically with attention, love, support and encouragement.  Because they know how to listen, my husband and I have become more comfortable talking about fears and what ifs. Our  Parkinson’s friends know how to take life as it comes and still laugh and remain fully engaged each day.  We have much to learn from them.

The last thing I expected when I met this group for the first time in 2006 is that these incredible, resilient men and women would one day become our very own support group.

Sometimes in life we find ourselves exactly where we need to be.