April 18, 2017
Thanks for visiting. I figured I'd put a little something together to provide premise as to why I started Tea Parky (including how it was named) and why a portion of all sales are donated to Parkinson’s Disease.
First off, if you don't know what Parkinson's Disease (PD) is, please click this link.
All in all, the disease currently affects approximately 10 million people worldwide, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and ALS.
So, how does this affect me?
My father was diagnosed with PD around the age of 40 when I was 10-11 years old and has had the disease for over 15 years. It is extremely uncommon for a person to be diagnosed so young, as the average age of diagnosis is 62, and only 4% of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50.
Growing up, I always saw it as an embarrassment. I would pray every night that the disease would go away and things would be normal again. I used to think it was unfair for me to have a parent with PD. Everything was about me. As the years have passed, I'm left to wonder why it is fair for someone with still so many goals, ambitions and adventures to be diagnosed so young. It's frustrating beyond comprehension, even if my dad has made an effort to never show it when I'm around. Never once has he ever complained, no matter how bad things are. It is tough to watch a parent struggle at times with the most basic tasks that we take for granted on a daily basis.
Sometimes there really isn't much to do other than cry, and cry a lot.
Today, I realize just how ignorant I was back then, no matter how much pain my family has incurred. It is the single biggest blessing to be able to see life the way I do, and I wouldn't be who I am today without going through this.
Only recently did I start to talk about this, and it is still a rather uncomfortable subject for me. As I started opening up, a good friend of mine noted that stuff like this is the reason why he doesn't believe in God. After all, if there is a God, why would things like this happen? I give that question a lot of thought every single day. I don't know why bad things happen to good people. I don't know why the man crossing the street is blind, or why children are born with life-altering disabilities, or why homelessness and world hunger exist. It's kept me up many nights thinking about how some people have it so much harder than others. Life is frustratingly unfair like that, but I'd like to think it's so that we become more appreciative of what we have and in turn try to help out others who are less fortunate. I've come to realize that life is not about monetary possessions or traveling the world or watching your favourite sports team win a championship. It is about your impact on others, and how you are able to help those around you. It sucks that my father has PD. But if I am able to turn around and help even 2 people live a better life because of this, I'd like to think that it makes things a little easier to accept, and gives it a positive meaning.
This letter isn't about "poor me" or "feel sorry for me". So far, in my 26 years, I've been blessed beyond belief. Going through this only helped me develop the greatest appreciation of life itself. Instead, this letter signifies that it is time to get to work. I may be naive to think starting a website in my bedroom will make a difference. After all, I'm not a scientist, this isn’t a Hollywood movie, and not everything has a happy ending. But if I am able to raise even $5, we will be $5 closer to finding a cure. And every penny counts.
Or perhaps, you have been personally affected by another disease or illness and would like to contribute towards that cause instead after reading this. I understand that PD is not as immediately life-threatening as cancer, and does not affect as many individuals as other diseases. But PD is what I am affected by personally, and as a result is what I choose to fight against. The truth is, everyone has a story that will break your heart. It is important to use that as motivation to take action. Hope is simply not a strong enough strategy.
As Chuck Klosterman puts it, "there is nothing scarier than thinking everything in life happens by chance." I'm a fond believer that everything happens for a reason, and this is my purpose. I've grown up realizing that sometimes life isn't fair, and as much as it sucks, you can either complain for the rest of your life, or you can do something about it. Not everything that happens to me will be my fault, but everything certainly is and will always be my responsibility. I sincerely hope you will join me in the pursuit of a cure for Parkinson's Disease. My ultimate goal is to raise awareness about PD in the hopes that those who are currently affected by it are able to achieve a greater standard of living, and that eventually we will find a cure.
And if you currently suffer from PD, in the words of Jim Valvano, "Don't give up, don't ever give up." Keep fighting and continuing to be an inspiration to others. My father is easily my biggest hero. After all, there was and still is no explanation, no answers. And you're supposed to just accept it. You're supposed to live with it. He got cheated out of life itself, yet has never complained once. I don't think I will ever fully comprehend how much strength/courage that takes and the impact that has had on my life. And my mother couldn't exemplify the wedding vow "in sickness and in health" any more courageously. The love she shows for my dad is something that I admire and strive to replicate everyday towards others. I honestly couldn't have asked for better role models. Throughout my entire life, they’ve sacrificed their happiness in order to ensure I would never have to sacrifice mine, and now I spend every waking moment trying to pay them back. I wish I could give them the world. Again, I've been blessed beyond belief.
In conclusion, I'd like to end with this quote:
"If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it." - Elon Musk
Some people go through life never finding the one thing they're truly passionate about, whether it be a job, a person, an idea, a hobby, or a place. If you're ever lucky enough to find it, please pursue it with everything you've got, for all those who wish they did or still could. Finding a cure may take 5 years. It may take 25 years. Or it may even take 225 years. In fact, there's a chance we may never find a cure. But I'm only 26 and I will fight this thing for as long as I live. I've simply lost too much.
It is time to get to work, and to turn an unfortunate break into the biggest blessing of my life. #BeatParky
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