Who is The Perky Parkie? You know when you are meeting someone new, they always ask, “What do you do?”….a flash of your life goes through your mind as you slightly begin to panic. How do you define yourself in 30 words or less? Then, without a pause, you spout out the most superhero, ‘cliff notes’ version of yourself. We all do it. But what really defines us, cannot be summarized into a paragraph. My life cannot be categorized into comfortable, clean boxes. So who am I?
My name is Allison. I am a thirty-something girl who has been a medical anomaly since age 13. I wanted to help people… to really make a difference. So I went to graduate school to become a Psychotherapist and during my second year, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The only thing that made sense to me was to give back. I launched a program called “Parkinson’s in Balance” in 2010 with the goal to help my community. My program offers fitness classes, support groups and social events. You can also follow my advocacy work through my blog. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing what you do, you might just give inspiration to someone in need of a boost.
P.S. For those of you that need clean boxes, here is my formal introduction…
Allison Smith, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Wellness Life Coach
Founder of Parkinson’s in Balance
Perky Parkie Blogger and Author
After surviving Colon Cancer at age 24, Allison was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was 32 years old. Three years of hiding the symptoms of her illness, with the support of her medical team, she decided to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS). It was at that time when she made a choice to take the negative and turn it into a positive by give back to families who struggle with neurological deficiencies. In 2010, Allison launched the program Parkinson’s in Balance which offers support groups, fitness classes and events at no cost to the community. Then in 2013, Allison started The Perky Parkie Blog, with the hopes of expanding her reach into the Parkinson’s community. Allison is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with an emphasis on chronic illness, chronic pain, health and fitness. She is a Certified Wellness Life Coach who partners with individuals and families who are challenged by health issues. Allison is a personal trainer certified through National Academy of Sports Medicine and holds a certification in Parkinson’s PWR! Moves.
A Day in the life of a Parkie
By: Allison Smith
Being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in my teens, Colon Cancer in my 20’s and now Parkinson’s disease in my 30’s, I am no stranger to a challenge. When people ask me, “How do you stay strong as you endure the decline of your health at such a young age?” My response is, “Lots of Frozen Yogurt and being able to laugh at myself.”
While there is some truth to the power of frozen treats, I have to acknowledge that I couldn’t have made it through all the dark times without my family, friend and a positive attitude sprinkled with humor. I am not going to say that there are not days that I do not want to get out of bed and face what is ahead of me. But I believe that I am going through these challenges for a reason. If my story can give hope to someone who is facing an illness, I found meaning in my life. Parkinson’s disease has no idea what I am capable of and as long as there is air in my rigid, slow body, I will seek out opportunities to weaken the disease and give hope to its victims. -Allison “The Perky Parkie”