Hello everyone. It is my honor to open the 2018 Davis Phinney Victory Summit.
My name is Kat Hill and I was diagnosed with PD almost 3 years ago at the age of 48. After my diagnosis, I retired from my demanding career as a nurse-midwife after delivering over 800 babies. I then realized I had a huge choice to make. I could sit in my house and hide, watch tv, control everything around me to minimize my symptoms.
I could get up and FIGHT. I chose to FIGHT. I will not be defined by any disease.
Too many in our world today have been lost to isolation and despair. Our news headlines are riddled with the stories. Too many feel alone. We need not turn to desperate measures to find solace. We are all connected. Let us turn to each other, to our loved ones, to our community for help for connection. No one must be in this fight alone. Our presence here today is evidence of just that. We are community.
Today is an opportunity to find ways to enhance our lives, our spirits and our abilities to thrive despite adversity. Will you be focused on the fact that we do not yet have a cure for Parkinson’s, or will you celebrate your victories? The choice is yours to make.
My pivotal decision to fight included reaching out to find the PD Rebels and Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon or PRO. Before I was diagnosed, I had never met anyone else with Young Onset Parkinson’s. Now, with the help of PRO, I co -facilitate a support group. Our Young onset happy hour group meets monthly in a local pub. We have found our community with similar stories and philosophies. We find power in our numbers. We share our fight, our laughter and sometimes our tears. Many of us even sweat together at our boxing boot camp at 6:30 am.
I am also fighting to re-define myself. Who am I if not a midwife, delivering babies? Well, I AM a fighter, a blogger, a speaker and an artist. I am a wife, a mother and a sister. I am living a rich and engaged life. I study resilience and along with a fellow fighter, speak to groups.
I am also serving my community. I volunteer for fundraising events, teach watercolor at an assisted living facility, and although I am no longer delivering babies, I continue to be a resource for my family, friends and neighbors.
Today is about victory. We have achieved it simply by showing up. Let us connect with one another other, listen to the knowledgeable line up of speakers and be lifted up by being together.
We must fight. We must move. We must engage. For those of you feeling isolated, we are here for you. Do not despair. Find your people here. You ARE NOT ALONE.