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Tracy Pollan, Caregiver & Loved One,Supporter
Living with a chronic disease is most difficult when you don't have much information. You don't know what to expect from the disease or what your choices are in dealing with it.
Being involved with the Foundation has allowed both Michael and me to be more proactive in dealing with and treating the disease in our own personal lives. The Foundation really took a devastating experience and turned into something positive for us. Instead of just coping with the disease we now see it as an opportunity. We have so many exciting things to work on and the knowledge we have gained from both the scientists and the people within the Parkinson's community has been so helpful. The Foundation has truly enriched our lives.
Katie Clark, Supporter
Knowing that 88 cents of every dollar spent goes directly to funding aggressive research makes it easy for me to ask friends and family to support my fundraising efforts.
There was a time in my life, not so long ago, that I could say that I didn't know anyone with Parkinson's disease but since getting involved with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, I have met many wonderful people living with PD. My involvement with the Foundation began not because I have a friend or relative living with PD, but because I was drawn to Michael's courage in facing the disease. I have a deep respect for his strength of character and his willingness to champion research that will impact millions of lives.
After I became involved with Team Fox (as a marathon runner) I came to realize how responsibly the Foundation is run and how fully it serves its mission to find a cure. Knowing that 88 cents of every dollar spent goes directly to funding aggressive research makes it easy for me to ask friends and family to support my fundraising efforts. I am also consistently impressed with the responsiveness of the Foundation's dedicated staff and humbled by the appreciation that has been shown to me as a fundraiser. I hope to be able to say it again someday - that I don't know anyone with PD. Once we find a cure, everyone will be able to say it!
Mary Anne Ostrenga, Supporter,Parkinson's Patient
The surprising thing about having Parkinson's disease and asking for help is that almost everyone says yes. I am eternally grateful for the compassion, generosity and donations... from unexpected acquaintances, family, old friends and former neighbors.
The surprising thing about having Parkinson's disease and asking for help is that almost everyone says yes. I am eternally grateful for the compassion, generosity and donations of money and time I have received from unexpected acquaintances, family, old friends and former neighbors. Two friends travel to Naperville from Colorado every year to volunteer at the Garden Walk. The mayor attends and is our best cheerleader. I am constantly amazed by the support of my community.
I have so many wonderful new friends that I would never have met if not for PD. I now have a passion, gardening, and a purpose, fundraising for PD research; together they give new meaning to my life.
I was diagnosed in 2001. Learning to cope with Parkinson's has made me more courageous, sympathetic and compassionate. I became an advocate, telling my story publicly to bring awareness to the need for continued research toward a cure. I met other advocates, including former Attorney General Janet Reno and Michael J. Fox. Hearing Michael speak at the World Parkinson Congress in 2006 made a big impression on me. I realized that when you tell your story and make it personal, people step up to help you. That was when I decided to join Team Fox and began planning the first Garden Walk.
Jo Dee Biddle, Caregiver & Loved One,Parkinson's Patient
If I have learned anything about PD in 28 years, it is to take things one day at a time. If it's a good day, seize the moment. If it's not, don't apologize.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in spring 2009. I was fortunate that it was caught early — I don't have much tremor or debilitation yet. My left hand freezes in position and I have cog-wheeling in my left arm, as well as rigidity. I also have 28 years of experience seeing what PD can do to the body. My paternal grandmother was diagnosed in 1981. My father was diagnosed in 1994. I began caring for my father in 1999, care that has increased in responsibility and time ever since. He has had deep brain stimulation surgery, but his balance and speech have not been helped. As a caregiver, I've finally come to terms with the idea that it's time to let someone else handle the "chores" so that I can spend my time enjoying my dad's company, as well as enjoy the time I have left before my symptoms become "disruptive" as my neurologist put it. I've been told that my father and grandmother's quick progression may not bode well for me. But that's OK. If I have learned anything about PD in 28 years, it is to take things one day at a time. If it's a good day, seize the moment. If it's not, don't apologize.
I am extremely grateful for people like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali who have come forward to make this disease known and accepted. There is still such a lack of understanding, even in the medical fields outside neurology, but it's far less of a challenge today than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. When my grandmother was diagnosed, most people I knew said, "Now what is that?" Today most people know about the "shaking disease," even if they don't know all of its implications. I use every opportunity to discuss PD as a way to teach someone something they didn't know about it.
Sheryl Jedlinski, Parkinson's Patient
Seeing myself through the eyes of others has given me confidence in my ability to beat Parkinson's.
Seeing myself through the eyes of others has given me confidence in my ability to beat Parkinson's. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's 11 years ago, at age 44. I joined an online patient advocacy group to regain a sense of control over my life; there I made a new friend, Jean Burns, with whom I co-founded pdplan4life.com. It's a Web site where people with PD can come to get helpful information, tips and support. Our goal is to empower others to live well with Parkinson's by sharing our daily challenges and triumphs, fears and coping strategies. (I find humor in everything from the King Kong-size hickeys left on my back by massage cupping to the drowning of my cell phone in a pedicure bath.) When I was first diagnosed, I could never have imagined how many lives I would touch as a result of PD. To date, people from all 50 states and more than 50 countries have visited pdplan4life. Every time we speak, people line up to hug us, shake our hands, and thank us for making them laugh and giving them hope. My disease has progressed, and I have days when my initial anger and sadness return. But I am doing far better than I would have expected. This year, Jean and I are crisscrossing the country to speak at five major conferences. All we want is to give back.
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