Voyages with Parkinson's

Today, Cedric Williams’ bags are typically packed. But they weren’t always. “As a kid growing up in Nebraska and Iowa, my family didn’t travel much – except car trips to visit relatives, and most of them were nearby. Even when I started traveling on my own, I mostly drove to nearby states to ride roller coasters.”

In his thirties he attended a professional training in Atlanta. “It was my first time in Georgia, and it was a one-day training. I was inside the hotel conference room the whole day. On the plane home, I wondered – can I even say I’ve been to Georgia? I never saw anything in daylight.”

Inspired by a magazine article, he set a personal challenge: to spend a week in each of the 50 states. Using two weeks of vacation time each year, he figured he could do it in 25 years.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs. In January 2015 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He’s made some adjustments, but Cedric is still on the road. “I have to be on top of my medications now – not just remembering to take them and to bring enough for the duration of the trip, but also to keep track of the time between doses while changing time zones. I eventually realized the ‘timer’ app on my phone is an ideal way to keep track of medication time. It’s also important to rest. If I’m traveling for a week, I set aside a day in the middle to relax and catch up on email and other things.”

Cedric keeps a blog, Voyages with Parkinson’s, where he documents his travels, catalogues his photography, and shares tips for others traveling with Parkinson’s. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s a creative outlet for me, and I hope it will help someone else. I’ve learned to plan for the unexpected. Medication adjustments, inopportune symptoms, sudden anxiety. You have to be ready to slow down and change plans sometimes. For Parkinson’s, and for life.”

Mostly, Cedric has learned that he’s more resilient than he thought he was. And he’s learned to prioritize doing the things he loves to do. He smiles, “my focus has changed. I don’t run from one roller coaster to another anymore, but if I’m in the area I’ll still stop by and ride my old favorites.”