Stories of Hope
Rayilyn Brown has been no stranger to medical anomalies and incurable
diseases throughout her life.. When she was a graduate student
t at UCLA she had two surgeries for abdominal arterio-venous fistulas
As a high school teacher at ages 43 and 44 she taught while on chemotherapy
for ovarian cancer. When she survived the big C she thought
she was home free and looked forward to a busy, active retirement.
At age 60 she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Since her maternal grandfather had died of the complications of this disease she knew this was one you don't win or lose. You always lose, no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do. And she tried by treadmilling and swimming every day, encouraging others to do so as well.
At age 68 she still exists on her own with intermittent help. A year ago she had to be awake for two DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) brain surgeries, (one side of her brain had to be redone). Although DBS gives some people with Parkinson's their lives back, all it helped was her bilateral tremors, at the expense of losing her voice, but that was a fair trade.
Parkinson's is called the "snowflake" disease since everyone with PD is different with respect to progression of the disease, reaction to medications, and severity of symptoms. The medications never really helped her, so she doesn't take them.
Stem cell research is essential to learn how cells behave. Researchers must learn the etiology of diseases in order to develop therapies or cures.
Since Ms. Brown is now 68, she will probably not benefit from this research, but like most people to whom something really awful has happened, they want their suffering to have some meaning and she doesn't want anyone else to have to experience this progressive "rigor mortis without the benefit of death" that is Parkinson's Disease.
Ms. Brown is grateful that her disability and wheelchair-bound days have come to her as an adult, rather than as a child, but is unhappy that now all she is able to do is to urge others to support all kinds of research so that some day everyone, especially children, can walk, move, speak, write, swallow, and breathe with the energy to live a useful life.
The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative is a significant step for mankind that could put the human race on the road to health. Time is running out and we have lost too much of it already. By supporting this ethical research, the person you help just might be yourself.