Jean Burns was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in 2003. Since then, she has devoted much of her time to clinical trial participation, and to advocating for people to volunteer for research. She frequently addresses the topic on†PDPlan4Life, a blog she keeps with friend Sheryl Jedlinksi. Jean is a member of the Patient Committee of theParkinson's Progression Markers Initiative†(PPMI), MJFF's landmark biomarker study.†
For years I had assumed my declining sense of smell had something to do with allergies. I was in my early thirties when I first noticed that I could barely smell orange blossoms in my parentsí backyard, and this Thanksgiving, Iíll barely be able to sniff out the delicious aromas of turkey and pumpkin pie.
After being diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease (PD) in 2003, I did some research and now suspect that my loss of smell was actually the early stages of PD. In fact, the majority of people with Parkinson's have a†reduced sense of smell, and studies have shown that smell loss often precedes the motor symptoms of the disease.
The Parkinson's Progression Marker's Initiative (PPMI) is a study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation to identify biomarkers, or indicators, or Parkinsonís disease. Today, reduced sense of smell is being investigated in PPMI as a potential Parkinson's†biomarker.
While I am not eligible to participate in this important study, I am eager to enlist friends and family over age 60 who do not have Parkinsonís to†take a brief online survey†to see if they might qualify.
At this time of year, there are many things Iím thankful for. But Iím especially grateful for the research volunteers both past and present who have participated in clinical trials so that I can have the medication I do today. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to give back by taking this brief smell survey and support research that could change everything for the 5 million Parkinsonís patients worldwide.