A Physician and Patient: A unique Parkinson's perspective
March 2023 Good News
Not many neurologists experience both the patient and physician perspective, but that is precisely what gave Dr. Henry Sadowski the tremendous empathy he brought to his medical practice every day. A neurologist of over 40 years, Dr. Sadowski was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) at the age of 59. He faced the disease with courage for 16 years, until his passing in May 2021.
His youngest daughter, Elisabeth, remembers her father as being intelligent and humble, with a brilliant sense of humour. She says he put his family and patients above all else. Elisabeth, now a trial lawyer specializing in personal injury and medical negligence, says her father set an incredible example for her as a professional. Her fondest memories of him were of them sitting together at the dinner table with their family, laughing together at one of his jokes. She also fondly reflects on memories of how her mother, Dr. Sadowski's primary caregiver in his final years, lovingly cared for him. "For the rest of my life, I will be in awe at my mother's strength and resilience in supporting my father in so many ways," Elisabeth says.
Having an organization like Parkinson Society BC (PSBC) throughout her father's journey made Elisabeth feel less alone and a part of an incredible, unique community of support. It was her father's experience with PD that inspired Elisabeth to join the Society's Board of Directors. "It has been incredibly inspiring to sit alongside an impressive slate of Directors who have had various experiences with Parkinson's," she says.
Outside of her work with PSBC, Elisabeth is also currently the president of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC. In her spare time, she loves spending time with friends and family, traveling, playing tennis, and is a proud aunt of nine, ages five months to 22 years old.
When considering what she wishes more people knew about Parkinson's, Elisabeth says that first and foremost, it is not a "cookie-cutter disease" – everyone is different in their symptoms, progression, and care needs. Additionally, she states that every person who has Parkinson's should be treated with compassion and like an individual. Elisabeth also stresses that individuals touched by Parkinson's do not need to walk on the journey alone. "There is a community out there of people and resources that can make the often-daunting diagnosis a little less overwhelming," she says. "I am so grateful to everyone who is part of Parkinson Society BC, from our CEO, to the staff and volunteers, to our members. I am humbled and feel privileged to be associated with such an impressive group."