Connie Yealdhall Richard’s Parkinson’s diagnosis came completely out of the blue. No one in her family had a history of the disease. Working one day as a critical care nurse, she found her left hand thumb was trembling. A Parkinson’s diagnosis came shortly after.
Six years later, she would be forced to retire. The medications had been controlling her symptoms, but she was sleepwalking. Three more years down the road, her older sister would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s and, sadly, she pass away soon thereafter.
But shortly before Grace’s death, she and Connie were able to participate in a clinical trial together. The genetic study was collecting blood samples and required that they fill out a 25-page questionnaire about exposure to certain chemicals. Connie considers their participation in the study even more important because both of them had Parkinson’s. That was the third trial Connie participated in. She’s planning to participate in a fourth once she’s had DBS surgery in January.
Connie’s nursing background helped her make the decision to start participating in trials soon after her diagnosis. The first was a trial testing a new drug with the goal of delaying the progression of the disease. For six months, Connie took eight to 10 pills each day, and to this day is unsure if she had the placebo or the real medication.
The next was a study on memory. Doctors gave her memory tests, and she underwent MRI scans. Since then, she’s signed up for Fox Trial Finder – The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s clinical trial matching tool. That’s how she found the genetic study she and her sister participated in.
“I think you should help others,” she said. “Let the disease help others. Don’t be afraid. That’s the only way we’re going to beat it.”
Join the more than 35,000 volunteers who have already registered to volunteer for Parkinson's research: www.foxtrialfinder.org.