It started with a tremor in a finger that spread to Jacqueline Rosencrans’ arm, as happens for many other people with Parkinson’s disease. Doctors thought it was a pinched nerve, or a benign essential tremor. It even could be PD, they told her, so Jacqueline kept going back to the doctor.
By the time she made an appointment at the University of Pennsylvania in September, Jacqueline said she had time to process that what she could have was Parkinson’s disease. When the diagnosis was confirmed, Jacqueline’s doctors also told her that they were actively conducting a PD clinical trial for which she was a perfect fit. They asked if she’d like to participate.
That very same day, after hearing more about the trial and having the chance to ask any questions, Jacqueline said “You know what? Let’s do this.” After leaving the clinic, Jacqueline said she sat in her car crying, until the thought came to her. “This is something I didn’t just wake up with this morning,” she recalled. “This is something I can deal with. I’m not going to let it get me.”
The very next day, she started the trial. She’s not sure if she is being given a placebo or not, but she says she “absolutely feels a difference.” To stay active, she also does yoga and runs, saying it helps her mood and symptoms immensely. She may even run a half marathon for Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising arm of The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).
“It’s not scary when you first hear ‘clinical trial,’” Jacqueline said, but that asking questions and trusting your team of doctors make it something that we all can do. “If we don't all do our part, the cure is going to be that much farther away.”
The trial lasts for a whole year, but Jacqueline already has a plan in place to continue participating once it’s over. Since her diagnosis, she’s signed up for Fox Trial Finder, MJFF’s online clinical trials matching tool, to help her find the trials in her area that need someone like her. She hopes to participate in more trials in the future and that maybe one day her family will get involved in clinical trials, too, as many trials need people without Parkinson’s disease to serve as control volunteers.
Today, everyone in the family knows about her diagnosis, except for her two sons, ages 10 and 13. She wants to wait until they’re a little older so they can understand that even with PD, “Mommy is going to be fine.”
For Jacqueline, participating in clinical trials means that “maybe more moms at the age of 42 won't have to look at their kids and say: ‘This is going to be a long road, but we’re going to be just fine.’”
By registering for Fox Trial Finder, you can find out about the PD clinical trials in your area that are in need of volunteers like you. Join Jacqueline and more than 30,000 others by signing up today at www.foxtrialfinder.org.
Kate Harmon is a guest blogger for FoxFeed and profiles members of the PD community who have participated in clinical trials when she's not working as a newspaper editor. Her father has Parkinson's and her entire family is involved in the fight. Check out their family blog for more of these PD warriors, www.pcrfinc.com.