Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be overwhelming and challenging. It’s a journey that comes with unique experiences and uncertainties. However, in the face of such a diagnosis, individuals don’t have to face it alone. Parkinson Canada offers a national Peer-to-Peer Support Program that matches trained volunteer mentors with those who are newly diagnosed or caring for someone with Parkinson’s. This program provides one-on-one support, based on the lived experience of the mentor, to help reduce social isolation, build resiliency, and provide guidance. It’s a program that brings individuals together to share experiences, creating a supportive community that understands the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.
One of the mentors in the Parkinson Canada Peer-to-Peer Support Program is Blake Mackey. Blake knew he had Parkinson’s for about a year before receiving his official diagnosis. Despite the preparation, the diagnosis still hit him hard. Blake understands the importance of having someone to talk to and seek support from during such a challenging time. He believes that the peer-to-peer program is about knowing you’re not alone and having someone to turn to with specific questions or issues. As a mentor, Blake is committed to being available to his mentee at a moment’s notice, providing guidance and support based on his own lived experience with Parkinson’s. In Blake’s own words “I became a mentor because I want to make a positive out of a negative. Getting diagnosed was one of the hardest, but also the best things that happened to me, giving me a feeling of purpose to help and contribute to others. Life isn’t an easy thing to go through and we’re in this together. The more we can help each other and lend aid, the better off we are.”
Another mentor in the program is Rob Lebel, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago. Rob was shocked by the diagnosis, as no one in his family had Parkinson’s. He felt confused about the next steps and sought out information from healthcare providers and other people with Parkinson’s. Rob’s journey inspired him to volunteer as a mentor to help others who are looking for support and answers. He wants to share his knowledge of things he’s tried, what worked well, and what didn’t, believing that this insight can be incredibly valuable for newly diagnosed individuals. Rob’s goal is to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease and play a part in supporting Parkinson’s Canada to create a better future for those impacted by the disease. Rob has some words of encouragement for anyone thinking of reaching out for support “If you’re hesitant, try it out, maybe you won’t go past the first call. Don’t try to do this alone, there are many people living in the same situation as you so reach out and it’ll help you through the rough patches.”
The Peer-to-Peer Support Program can be a valuable resource for anyone with Parkinson’s. It offers an opportunity to connect with someone who has firsthand experience with Parkinson’s and can provide guidance and support. It’s a safe space to share thoughts, concerns, and questions with someone who understands, and to learn from their lived experience. These types of peer-to-peer programs are crucial to the Parkinson’s community, providing a sense of belonging and support during a challenging time.
Remember, you don’t have to face Parkinson’s alone – there is a community of mentors happy to lend a helping hand.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the Parkinson’s Canada Peer-to-Peer Support Program.