Contributing to the goal of a cure

My most recent interview for the Michael J. Fox Foundation blog was Foundation staffer Kathy Vestuto.

Kathy was great and really enthusiastic to talk about Fox Trial Finder. And her story was fascinating.

Kathy’s grandmother had Parkinson’s, and died right around the time that drugs like Levadopa were coming out to treat symptoms. Through her grandmother, she said her “childhood memories are very clear of seeing the progression and expression of the disease.” That motivated her to use her background in event planning to join the Foundation years ago. Then, her research division was only six people. Now it’s nearly 25 strong.

But that’s not all Kathy does.

Kathy has participated in two trials through Fox Trial Finder and she loved it. The words she used to describe her experiences were — impressive and fun. One was a cognitive exercise where she got to play video games. The other, a simple skin slice.

But what stood out to me the most during the interview was toward the end when Kathy said:

I’m a non-scientist. I can’t make a direct impact. I feel like for the most part my contribution is peripheral. If I can do something that will further the goal, I will do that.”

I really hope that Kathy realizes that she has a very tangible contribution to the goal. By participating in trials (and working for the Foundation) Kathy is in on the ground floor giving of herself through her career, energy and body to bring about a cure. That’s not peripheral at all!

Once I turned in the blog, Kathy kept thanking me for the honor of being blogged about, and for taking the time to ask her some questions. She wrote me again saying: “I’m so thrilled to do something to spread the word about FTF. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity!”

It made me smile, and shake my head. Because really, we should all be thanking you, Kathy. Because what you’re doing every single day is going to help find a cure for people like your grandmother. And my father.

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