What is the WPC, some of you may ask.
WPC stands for Wilma’s Personal Computer, Wisconsin’s Pretty Cats and a score of other off the wall, made up, random stuff, but in this case, WPC stands for World Parkinson Congress.
The WPC began roughly fourteen years ago when Dr. Elias Zerhouni had a vision to see those who had been touched by PD – caregivers, patients, professionals including physicians, nursing staff, pharmaceuticals and more – come together to discuss the latest research, treatments, programs, etc., all for the cause of not only expediting a cure for PD, but how to live well with PD in the meantime.
Zerhouni (the then head of the National Institutes of Health) shared his idea with Robin Elliott (President of the US-based Parkinson’s Disease Foundation [PDF]), who asked Dr. Stanley Fahn, one of the most recognized Parkinsonologists in the world, to help launch the World Parkinson Congresses. Dr. Fahd. agreed and in 2004 the World Parkinson Coalition Inc, the organization behind each Congress was established. The first WPC was held in 2006 in Washington, DC., followed by the WPC 2010 in Glasgow, UK, the WPC 2013 in Montreal, Canada and now the fourth WPC is currently being held in Portland, OR (September 20-23).
Tuesday night, last night, and the opening ceremonies. But let me back up a tad bit.
I was reluctant to go. It’s a six hour drive. Who would watch Finn? It’s expensive.
Excuses, excuses, excuses.
But you know what the biggest reason I was dragging my feet? The conference was about Parkinson’s disease. Yes, that’s right. But, you may ask – Isn’t that what you have?
Well, yes. But I don’t want it. And I get so tired of thinking about it. So – why would I want to go away for four days and hear nothing but Parkinson’s related subject matter?
I was offered a scholarship (from Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon via Holly Chaimov, their director) to go (which got rid of excuse #2). I was offered hotel accommodations (see excuse #2). Four people stepped up to watch Finn (excuse #3).
I accepted the scholarship, in hopes of the conference rejuvenating my spirit in regards to this little monster, especially in regards to my blog and so, here I sit, in rainy Portland, the morning after the opening ceremonies at the WPC.
Well, the rain is a welcome sight and the conference? So much more than I could have imagined.
This is now the fourth World Parkinson’s Congress. It seems this year is the year that the Congress has hit an exponential curve of growth. This year’s event boasts over 4,500 attendees and the synergy is the conversation of all present.
The goal for the evening was obvious: to make all atrendies feel welcome.
The evening opened up with a choir comprised of people with Parkinson’s disease. There was an award given for the best video presented to the WPC’s video contest. Some history of the WPC was given. Several speakers encouraged those attending but my favorites were Brian Grant, who touched on how it takes a village to deal with Parkinson’s disease, you, the person with PD, your caregiver(s), your support team, doctors, etc. And then he paused and looked out at those sitting in front of him. After a moment he added, “And you guys right here – you’re my village.”
At that moment, I realized I am a part of something bigger than myself. I may not like that I have this little monster I call PD, but the things it has taught me are invaluable. The people I have come to meet and have gotten to know because of it are a blessing beyond words. And I have a village that understands and is there for me. Thanks, Brian.
It reminds me of the verse in Genesis 50:20, where Joseph tells his brothers when they fear he will do unto them what they did unto him, “…you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid.”
I can now see some light again after going through a period of darkness over this little PD monster. Because I can see the good in the bad. I can see much good. And while I’ll report back on the conference some more later, I just want to thank Holly Chaimov, a part of my village, for thinking of me and encouraging me and being there.
Thanks, Holly. I hope you got your ice cream bar.