Editor's Note: For the latest Foundation news, research updates and tips on living well with Parkinson's, read the Spring/Summer edition of The Fox Focus, our biannual newsletter.
While standing in the middle of New York City’s bustling Grand Central Terminal, Carol Case came to a realization. “We’re going to take lemons and make lemonade and we’re going to make a difference.”
The year was 2007. Months earlier, Carol’s husband, Ira Lieberman, had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) — an unexpected turn of events for the couple, whose fruitful careers and grandchildren had previously kept them busy.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation soon became a vital source of information for Carol and the Case/Lieberman family. As she and Ira contemplated life changes for their retirement, such as moving to a warmer climate, they were encouraged by their friend and MJFF Board member Ed Levy to get involved in the Parkinson’s community.
So when the couple moved cross-country to start a new life in San Diego, Carol immediately took action to increase awareness of PD. “After Ira’s diagnosis, I didn’t feel like it was the end of the world — I didn’t want him to feel that either. There was someone out there fighting. That made a huge difference to me.”
Carol’s goal was to spread the support she felt from MJFF to others in the PD community. She also knew she wanted to fundraise to help drive research toward a cure. Within three months of her move to San Diego, she hosted her first “friendraiser” to introduce patients and families to the Foundation’s latest research priorities and educational resources. She built on this experience by participating in a Partners in Parkinson’s panel, sharing her perspective as a caregiver with the event’s 721 attendees. (Learn more about Partners in Parkinson’s at partnersinparkinsons.org.)
Soon, the PD community in her new hometown began to see Carol’s home as a hub of information and support — and Carol as a connector and catalyst, embracing newcomers and helping them navigate their post-diagnosis journey. Today, her relationship with Ira has expanded to include wife, nurse, trainer and cheerleader — going beyond managing medications and attending doctor’s appointments to equip him with tools and encouragement to manage the new challenges that come his way.
To other caregivers and those living with Parkinson’s she shares this message: “There’s hope. That’s what keeps us going. You have the disease, there’s no getting away from that. So now how do you have it? That is up to you.”