You’re in for a real treat today!
One of my missions at Invigorate is to empower our tribe with stories of powerful, positive, and realistic Parkinson’s role-models who are living a life full of vitality, despite their diagnosis.
Meet Omotola Thomas, Founder of ParkinStand
Like most of you, Omotola Thomas has been told time after time that Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease and to curb her expectations of her future. Each time she walks out of a physician’s office, she has to remind herself that her strongest asset is her mind and that she has the power to choose to believe their prognosis or not.
She has consistently chosen to believe that she can defy the label that’s been placed upon her, and thus the perceived limitations that come with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
In an act of defiance, she founded ParkinStand:
“A ParkinStand is any positive action performed in defiance of the mental and physical limitations imposed on a person by a debilitating illness like Parkinson's disease.”
Omotola says she established ParkinStand “to motivate people who are dealing with any type of illness to fight back (with information, proper nutrition, exercise, and, most importantly, an unconquerable mindset). I want to encourage people to redefine the boundaries of the limitations brought on by such illnesses.”
WANT TO WATCH INSTEAD OF READ?
I covered this a recent Facebook LIVE broadcast over on the Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness Facebook page that you can watch here:
Livin’ La Vida Dopa
Diagnosed in 2016 at age 35 after five years of symptoms, Omotola is very open about the daily challenges of living with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. However, she is very clear that these challenges do not define her life and maintains an optimistic attitude about the future.
“I believe I can and will get better,” she says in her 4-part video diary series, Livin’ La Vida Dopa that she’s posted on her YouTube channel.
She gives her viewers an intimate view of a day in her life as a mother and wife and as well as a peek into her rockstar mindset:
"Your mind is your gateway to your destiny, and you must protect it at all costs."
She covers her diagnosis, symptoms that she experiences on a daily basis, feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, and (most importantly to her) how she maintains hope for the future and faith in her journey.
Omotola and I sat down to talk about where she wanted to focus her efforts, and she revealed another reason why awareness and outreach is such an important part of her mission.
Born in Nigeria, Omotola has only been exposed to the resources the western world provides for the last 18-20 years. She shared that in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, there is a lack of resources but more importantly a serious cultural stigma around sharing her struggles with her community. Thus, there is little awareness and even fewer resources for those in the African community who struggle with Parkinson’s symptoms on a daily basis.
Currently Omotola is working to expand resources and support for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
She also strongly believes in being a role-model for anyone in the black community who have a Parkinson’s diagnosis but feel uncomfortable with reaching out for support. Her poignant letter, “Where Are You?” , written to a young African female living with PD, was posted on the World Parkinson Congress blog and published in Parkinson’s UK’s quarterly publication The Parkinson magazine.
What’s Your ParkinStand?
Can you relate to Omotola’s mission?
Do you also seek to defy the limitations placed on you by your Parkinson’s diagnosis?
If so, Omotola would invite you to take a ParkinStand and share it with her on social media.
What physical movement can you challenge yourself to do that someone has told you that you can’t do because of your Parkinson’s diagnosis?
Hiking the local neighborhood trail?
Standing on one foot?
Riding a bike?
Whatever it is, share it with Omotola using the hashtag #parkinstand.
Follow her on Facebook here.
Follow her on Instagram here.
Subscribe to her on YouTube here.
You can even post it inside our private Facebook group, The Invigorated Community, and tag Omotola in your post.
And remember Omotola’s wise words: "A fit mind - a mind that is stable - is capable of taking you much further than a sick body."
Thank you, Omotola, for all you do for the Parkinson’s community.
You are a bright light and you have the entire Invigorate community cheering you on!