Partners in Parkinson’s – The Sequel

This week we attended the Partners in Parkinson’s event in Fort Lauderdale, FL sponsored by Michael J Fox Foundation & AbbVie .  We attended this event in Atlanta last year and came away with new information and new friends as reported in a previous post, On the Road Again.  Since we were in Florida, we thought we would attend the Ft Lauderdale event to find out what’s new, make some new friends, and catch up with Claudia Marshall who heads up the Fox Trial Finder (FTF) Ambassador program and get some pointers on our new roles as FTF Ambassadors. 
This year’s event followed the same format at last year with the morning panel sessions covering:
  • The Many Faces of Parkinson’s Disease – Moderator Dave Iverson and the four panelists explored how their lives have changed since their PD diagnoses. Each of the panelists discussed how they approached telling family, friends and coworkers, and where they turned for more information about PD, among other topics.
  • Seeing a Movement Disorder Specialist: What to Know, Ask and Expect – This panel included Bob Harmon and his wife Cecily.  Bob is also a FTF Ambassador whom I met at the Sarasota meeting a few weeks ago. They were interviewed by Dr Stuart Isaacson, a local Movement Disorder Specialist.  It was a great session with Dr Isaacson asking Bob a series of questions about his symptoms just as if it was a real appointment. When Bob indicated that mornings are difficult as he takes his last dose of medications at 9pm,  Dr Isaacson recommended a change to the timing of his medications to help alleviate the problem.  They also discussed acting out of dreams, bladder urgency and other non motor symptoms.  After each question Dr Isaacson offered suggestions for new medication or timing of medication or other solutions Bob could take to reduce the impact of the symptom. He even conducted the usual tests like tapping feet and fingers and watching him walk across the stage. And like the speakers at the Sarasota meeting, Dr Isaacson also reinforced the need for regular exercise.  Once again, this was great example of why you should see a Movement Disorder Specialist if at all possible.
  • Parkinson’s Research: The Road Ahead – Moderator Dave Iverson and the panel discussed the new drugs recently  released (Rytary, the extended release levodopa and Duopa, the intestinal gel levodopa), plus what’s coming up such as an inhaler to provide dopamine quickly, new advancements in DBS, and genetic research among other topics. They also pointed out that recent research has shown that regular exercise is beneficial and slows down the progression of PD.
The afternoon sessions included the breakout sessions:
  • Living Well with Parkinson’s – conducted by The Davis Phinney Foundation which provides a holistic approach based on exercise and diet that provides lifelong benefits.
  • Building Connections with Family, Friends and Community –  moderated by Dave Iverson, the panelists in this session discussed personal relationships, how they deal with PD and what they have done to promote awareness about PD. 
  • I’m Still Wondering About – an opportunity to ask the experts questions that weren’t covered during the morning sessions.
Once again, this was an extremely informative event that presented timely information to an audience hungry to learn more about PD. 
The resource fair provided opportunities for participants to meet with local south Florida representatives of the NPF, PAN, and PDF along with MJF and to meet with local providers of PD related medical care such as BIG and LOUD.  And we met with Claudia and had an opportunity to further discuss the FTF Ambassador program and watch the FTF Ambassadors  in action as many attendee’s stopped by their table for information about FTF.
As happened at the last event, we added several new members to our ‘world wide’ support group. One of our table mates grew up in Colorado so in addition to comparing notes about our PD, we discussed all things Colorado. Another table mate had just moved to Florida to help care for his father who has PD and he was very interested in all of the information we received during each session. 
We also ran into a couple we had met at Kripalu in October, 2013, Marcia and Erwin Guberman.  They have been visiting in Florida for several weeks and will be in the Sarasota area this weekend so we hope to hold a mini-reunion with them and Melissa Wenig and Joel Gordon our Sarasota friends who we also met at Kripalu.  And what would a meeting be without seeing Bill Wilkerson from our Atlanta panel, it seems he follows us everywhere :).  We congratulated him on being recently named this year’s recipient of the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award which he will receive at the National Parkinson’s Unity Walk in April in New York City. 
It was a great event (again) and we highly recommend (again) attending a Partner’s in Parkinson’s event if one is held near you. You can check the 2015 locations and register on the PIP Site.  
Next week we will attend another Parkinson’s Cafe event at the Sarasota Ballet and we have guests coming from Colorado for some beach time.  Until next time, if you haven’t signed up for Fox Trial Finder you can do it here and if you have signed up take time to check your trial matches or update your profile at the same link. 
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

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