The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Pushing for Parkinson's

Joan Samuelson seeks stem-cell research

When her hand began trembling uncontrollably, Joan Samuelson decided she could no longer be a trial attorney. That day, five years after she was diagnosed in 1987 with Parkinson’s disease, was one of the worst in her life. “It felt like one minute I was standing on solid ground and the next a trapdoor had opened,” said the lifelong Lutheran. “All the certainties in my life were no longer there. When there is nothing else, that’s when you discover what faith is all about.”

Pursuing support for Parkinson’s disease
Pursuing support for Parkinson’s disease research, Joan Samuelson uses her skills as a lawyer to be an advocate for others with the disorder.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that results from degeneration and premature death of dopamine-producing brain cells. Although Samuelson would gladly rid herself of this debilitating disease, she now can look back at the last 18 years and say that part of her is grateful for the life she leads. That’s because she no longer takes simple pleasures for granted. It’s also because she can use her skills as a lawyer to assist the 1 million Americans suffering with the same illness.

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February issue


Embracing diversity