There are many faces of Parkinson’s, Claudia’s just happens to be smiling most of the time.
“I’m an optimistic person,” said the mother of two teenage boys who lives with her family in Illinois.
She’s also one of the 11,000 people with the disease that make up 23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research Community – individuals who participate in a new kind of crowd-sourced science.
To mark Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we’re highlighting Claudia’s story in part because of who she is, but also because of what motivated Claudia to join the community in the first place, and what keeps her engaged and optimistic about the future.
Most of us are not scientists or researchers, but we can play a role in our health by being engaged, educated about the disease, and willing to contribute to research.
As Claudia says:
“If I have the opportunity to do something right now, why wouldn’t I?”
It’s people like Claudia, who have helped 23andMe create the world’s largest cohort of genotyped Parkinson’s patients. This community has powered important research from the beginning, first helping to replicate known genetic associations for Parkinson’s and then helping researchers find never before seen associations.
23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research Community is unique because it enlists people as partners in research instead of looking at them as subjects. For those with Parkinson’s – some of whom live away from major centers of research or are physically unable to travel to those centers – 23andMe’s Research community has allowed them to easily contribute from the comfort of their own homes.
For Claudia her diagnosis in 2010 surprised her and left her frightened, and unsure.
“Parkinson’s disease entered in our home uninvited and it decided to stay, in me,” she said.
Like many who face a serious illness, Claudia wondered why this burden had been placed on her shoulders, but she quickly moved beyond that. She thought of her children and others with the disease, knowing that perhaps if she participated in research scientists might find something in her that could help others.
Take a moment and meet Claudia, one of the everyday heroes that make 23andMe’s research possible.