Apr 6, 2021 - Stories

Raising Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. It also marks the 12th anniversary of 23andMe’s groundbreaking Parkinson’s Research community, which is now the largest genetic research cohort for Parkinson’s disease in the world.

But the power of that research engine wouldn’t be possible without Anne Bossman and thousands of other people like her who have consented to participate in 23andMe research. Anne, a 62-year-old personal trainer living in Colorado, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two and a half years ago.

A photo of Anne on a hike near her home.

Participating in Research

It hit her hard.

“After my diagnosis, I cried,” she said.

But it wasn’t for long.

“I knew Parkinson’s was not going anywhere, and the sooner I accepted this and plowed forward, the sooner I could have good days,” Anne said.

First, she learned as much as she could about the disease. She used the vast resources of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and then she was introduced to 23andMe and joined our Parkinson’s Research community.

“I was very happy for the opportunity to participate,” Anne said.

Her participation and the participation of thousands of others in 23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research community have helped fuel insights published in 17 papers, four of them last year alone. That research has always been about using genetic insights to search for better ways to diagnose and treat Parkinson’s disease and possibly make discoveries that could help lead to a cure.

Staying Active

For Anne, the most important thing is to stay active.

“(Parkinson’s disease) is known but not understood by almost everybody until it touches their lives directly,” Anne said.

Being active is vital for Anne, and she feels fortunate to have always been an athlete and outdoorsy. Her symptoms include stiffness, but she can overcome some of that by keeping moving, exercising, riding horses, balancing exercise, and lifting weights.

“I feel better the more exercise I get,” Anne said.

She hopes to be able to show others a way through her example.

“It’s not how often I get down,” she said. “But how quickly I can pick myself back up.”

You can learn more about 23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research program here or view another 23andMe Parkinson’s research participant Claudia’s story about participating in the program.

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