PBS Frontline: A Family's Legacy of Parkinson's Disease

Dave Iverson and his father (photo provided by Frontline)
Dave Iverson and his father (photo provided by Frontline)

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Dave Iverson
Frontline Correspondent
Wednesday, February 4, 2009; 11:00 AM

PBS Frontline correspondent Dave Iverson was online Wednesday, February 4 to discuss his film 'My Father, My Brother, and Me,' in which he explores the latest medical research and political debate surrounding Parkinson's Disease -- an illness that has affected several members of his family, including Iverson himself.

"My Father, My Brother, and Me" aired Tuesday, February 3 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

A transcript follows.

David Iverson has been an executive producer and anchor of national, regional and local specials for public broadcasting for nearly 30 years. In all, he has written and supervised production of over 25 documentaries for national prime time broadcast on PBS. Iverson also hosts the Friday edition of Forum on KQED public radio in San Francisco and the FAQ series for KQED television.

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Dave Iverson: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining this discussion. Just a reminder that I'm a reporter and not a physician, but I'll do my best to respond to everyone's questions. so, let's get started!

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Columbia S.C.: I really enjoyed the Frontline show you did. Like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's is a cruel disease. I had an uncle, brilliant architect, that got Alzheimer's. Very tragic. Embryonic Stem Cell research is so promising to produce cures, I don't understand how our some in our society cannot see the big picture -- that spinal cord injury, heart disease, maybe even cancer could be virtually things of the past with this medical breakthrough. Thanks and good luck to you.

Dave Iverson: thanks so much for your kind comments ...to me it was a real privilege to work on the film ... a kind of journey in itself that I will always be grateful for ... and which continues.

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San Diego, Calif.: First, thank you for an excellent show. I am 53 and was diagnosed with Parkinson's almost 10 years ago. I was especially intrigued by the portion on the importance of exercise. I have a Parkinson's Assistance Dog. The dog assists me with my gait -- I no longer shuffle. I wanted to share the use of dogs to facilitate exercise. This exercise has greatly improved the quality of my life.

Dave Iverson: Thanks for your kind comments ... I really appreciate them.

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Ft Wayne, Indiana: If there is no cure, how important is early diagnosis and treatment? Here's why:

I heard you on the radio on Monday, describing your symptoms. I have noticed a shaking in my thumb every few weeks, and once in a while I get the buzzing in my hip, like my cell phone is ringing. I have barely been able to think straight since I heard your comments and I am scared spitless right now.

I may change jobs in a few months, which would mean a full physical. If I get checked for Parkinson's now, it will be on my medical record and could affect my chances.

I should note that in addition to being CFO of my company, I am 41, a marathoner, very involved father of 3, and play jazz guitar. The idea of losing my motor skills is absolutely stupefying to me.

Dave Iverson: Hi Ft Wayne:

Well, first I need to qualify this by noting that I'm not a physician. But I'd say it's really hard to know ... a number of my friends have had the false cell phone symptom and none had PD so it must be pretty common and certainly not always connected to PD ... it could be for me that that the key clue was rather my arm not swinging. Again, I'm no doctor ... just a reporter and producer... but I sure would still encourage you to see one and check it out because if it is PD there are things like exercise that can help.

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Delta, Pa.: What is the best medicine for early Parkinson's? I have been taking carbidopa/levidopa 25/100 for two weeks with no improvement in tremors. I am quite discouraged. I am 69 years old. I watched your program last night and found it very informative. I plan to try to start a support group in our area since I am a licensed clinical professional counselor. I got that idea while watching your program. Thanks.

Dave Iverson: Again, I'm not a physician ... but many docs feel like it's good to go slow with meds ... and remember we all respond differently ... and different symptoms respond differently to different meds ...it could be that the levadopa is helping with other symptoms, but not with tremor.

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Narragansett, R.I.: It takes so many PD patients a long time to be diagnosed. The patient often knows he or she has PD before the doctors. There appears to be a reaction to times when people who had essential tremors, for example, were mistakenly diagnosed with PD. So many doctors delay, resist diagnosing and thereby confuse patients -- and delay treatment. Some of this may be research driven -- as I mention in a blog at Huffington Post, but while mistakes aren't good, why send patients away without answers waiting for symptoms that are clear indications of PD? Isn't this an old paradigm? Isn't there another option?

Dave Iverson: You've raised some good points ...diagnosis is tricky and I think people are hesitant to prescribe or take meds until it's confirmed ...but you're right it is a bit of a catch 22.

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S.F., Calif.: It's critical that you provide a much more balanced and realistic description of stem cell research. We've had mouse models of Parkinson's for 20 years and mouse embryonic stem cells for 30; if there was any significant prospect of ES therapy it would have been demonstrated decades ago. Rather than repeating the notion that the Bush administration prevented the progress of ES research, realize that the only cell lines currently approved for human trials were included in the prescribed set. Not because they are the only lines available, but because they are by far the best characterized and analyzed lines in the world (I'd be amiss not to point out this work was done by the private sector -- Geron Corp -- and not the academic researchers/clinicians Frontline panders to in this report. The 1999 Senate hearing is a prime example to the overselling done by academics and clinicians alike (in 5-10 years we'll have a cure). You're doing the public a big misservice by failing to temper the optimism with a more realistic, and likely, outcome of this research.

Dave Iverson: Thanks for writing ... and I appreciate your point of view. A few clarifications though. We didn't say Pres. Bush prevented progress, only that his decision put up significant obstacles. That's the scientific consensus. Second we were very careful to make sure both sides were represented fairly... And last, we also didn't indicate that ES cells were the magic bullet and said again at the end of the show that there were big obstacles to overcome. but thanks for voicing your views ...it's a tough issue ...and I really do see both sides.

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Chicago, Ill.: Your show was very informative and I thank you for that. I was diagnosed three years ago at age 39. Is it true the younger the diagnosis the faster the disease progresses?

Dave Iverson: Thanks for those comments. I have heard researchers say that, that young onset often progresses more rapidly .... but please see a physician on that.

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Anonymous: As a runner, I am so pleased there is now perhaps an additional reason to pursue my love of exercise. How clear is the evidence at this time that running can delay or prevent Parkinson's?

Dave Iverson: The research is all still preliminary ... but I'm really encouraged by it ...and hey, it can't hurt! Besides it's as good for the emotional side of all this as anything else.

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Lawrence, Kansas: I have a good friend who has had PD for years. He was one of the first electron implant patients in the United States. For several years, the implant allowed him to functional, nearly normally. Why did the documentary totally avoid mentioning the advancements and successes that have been made with electronic implant brain surgery?

Dave Iverson: thanks for raising that question. We got a number of comments on that last night on our post broadcast chat ...please go to pbs.org/frontline to see them ...DBS can be helpful ...we just couldn't do everything in the show ...and we felt it wasn't quite as central to the overall pursuit of slowing the disease progression (In other words DBS is sort of like the PD meds ... it helps, but it doesn't actually affect the course of the disease)

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Shreveport, La.: I'd like to add a mention of clinical trials. Much of the advancement in the knowledge and treatment of P.D. comes from clinical trials. If your neurologist mentions to you/your patient the possibility of participating in clinical trials, do give the invitation serious consideration. My husband participates in clinical trials. At the top of the list is his contributing to the body of knowledge about P.D. An additional benefit is that he gets to see his awesome neurologist "extra."

Dave Iverson: Great point! I totally agree.

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Phoenixville, Pa.: I've heard of symptoms of Parkinson's like hallucinations or mental impairments. This was quickly touched on in your movie. Is this common in Parkinson's disease?

Dave Iverson: Well here comes my "not a physician" caveat again ... but yes, those can become issues for some people with PD

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Baltimore, Md.: Thank you so much for your program. I feel as though I could make a sequel: "My grandmother, my father, my mother's sister, and me." We all had/have PD. I lost my dad in July to acute dementia, but it was really PD. It was terrifying to watch him transform into a shell of his former self. I had to constantly battle a sneering voice within me that kept taunting, "You could be like this one day!"

One thing I would recommend for PD patients and their caregivers is to keep a journal, not so much about physical things - although it can be helpful for physicians, but emotional experiences so that others can understand that PD is more than shaking hands and shuffling feet. My journal was the only thing that kept me sane while watching my dad die from the same disease I was battling, but you know that terror.

Thank you again.

Dave Iverson: Another great point ... for me doing the film was a bit like your journal... it's so important to have something that you can do ... that makes you engage ... so that you don't feel like you're just the passive recipient of something.

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Merrick, New York: Have you heard any news that President Obama is ready to reverse Bush's ban on Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research? During the campaign, he said he would do this right away but he's in office for 2 weeks and it still hasn't happened.

Dave Iverson: It's widely expected that the Bush rules will change ... it could happen by way of a Presidential action ... but the new president might also wait for Congress to act and then simply sign it into law.

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Colorado Springs, Colorado: I would have liked a little bit more focus, even if it were just a five minute segment, on Young-Onset Parkinson's, as I am a YOPD patient myself. I just turned twenty-five on February 2, and I received the diagnosis of PD three weeks after my twenty-second birthday (almost 3 years ago now). It seems as though the YOPD group is such the minority that we get overlooked all too often.

Dave Iverson: Fair enough ... I wish we could have gone there too ... there's just so much ground to cover ... but I take your point ... I hope I'll get to do more reporting on this in the future.

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Buffalo, N.Y.: My grandfather, father and brother were all diagnosed with PD. I actually have some frozen embryos left over from several cycles of IVF. Is there any way for these embryos to be used in PD research or more directly for my brother's treatment? He goes to Mass General in Boston.

Dave Iverson: Fascinating question ... I have no idea ... but I'd encourage you to consult one of the researchers in that area ... lots of stem cell research going on at Harvard for example.

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Barrie, Ontario, Canada: Your documentary is excellent and, I hope, will appeal to a large audience.

I got the diagnosis about seven years ago and very much relate to many parts of the film. It is quite true that the disease nips away one's life bit by bit and seems to look for vulnerable, easy targets first such as my ankle which underwent surgery 40 years ago and my back which was injured in a car accident.

Until my pills kick in each morning, I am forced to crawl around my house. My Golden Retriever pup finds this amusing. I do not. It is very hard to know when to give up my law practice in order to spend more time exercising and doing the things I enjoy more (such as photos/music/painting/hiking/travel/fishing) in hope of slowly the PD's progress. Do you have any thoughts on this? The stress of working versus the stress of not working.

I have railed against pesticide sprays long before the link or my diagnosis. It is so obviously wrong to be permitting such dangerous chemicals to destroy our brains for the sake of a green lawn... hard to enjoy the grass from a wheelchair.

Thank you for spreading the information about PD in this medium. I do my own bit through the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and Parkinson Society Canada and through sales of my CD. If you have a few minutes, please see and hear my art and music at www.pdcreativity.org under my name (Peter Thompson).

Best of luck in this battle. The best we can hope for is to hold our own for as long as we can.

Dave Iverson: Thank you Peter ... and thanks for doing the work for PD that you are ... For me balance is important ... I love reporting ... but it no longer is the most important thing in my life ... in an odd way PD has helped me remember to focus on other things ... exercise to be sure ... but just what really matters in life.

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Portland, Maine: I am 42 years old and have been living with Parkinson's since I was 36, but not diagnsosed until 40. That was the day I began to exercise and take care of myself... use it or lose it... since then I have started my own Parkinson's exercise class and have been given the honor of becoming the President of the Maine Chapter of the APDA... they call me "media Mary." I am out there trying to educate not only the patients that need to find their way but also the primary care providers that do not believe that someone my age can have PD... no one should have to wait 5 years for their diagnosis.

Dave Iverson: Way to go Mary!

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: Like you, I, and my late father, have both lived with PD, and your show touched me deeply. Living about ten plus years with PD, I am lucky enough to weekly participate in the Mark Morris dance program in Brooklyn (featured in your wonderful program), and participate as well in a twice-weekly exercise class for PD, and a singing class, all sponsored by the Brooklyn Parkinson's group. I also use my exercise bike 4 miles each day, and all of the above have absolutely saved my spirit and my body, allowing me to have energy and hope. I also believe that participating in advocacy with Parkinson's Action Network, and actively participating in finding funding for a cure, subtracts years off of our decline, and is somehow neurogenerative. You neglected to mention Michael J. Fox's crucial involvement in helping to found PAN with Joan Samuelson, and I think it's vital to let your audience today know how important it is to continue to fight legislatively for funding for our cure in this scary economic climate. Obama's election does not mean we can become complacent. Joining PAN will help those of us out there to mount a far more hopefully successful battle, now that winning over Congress won't lead to a presidential veto anymore!

Dave Iverson: Great that you can do that with MMDG ... aren't those guys great? And you just did a plug for PAN ... so I don't have to!

thanks!

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Lancaster, Ohio: I watched the program hesitantly, expecting to hear that Dave, his brother and father have/had depressing outlooks on the future, but, to the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised to find the story of a father who enjoyed life to the fullest not allowing his Parkinson's diagnosis to dictate. What a wonderful legacy he left to his sons who are facing the same condition head-on... determined to live and enjoy life. I too had a father with Parkinson's disease, and whether or not I find myself facing the same problem, I pray that scientists, with the support of our government, may explore all avenues of research. Stem cell research is so exciting for the hope that it gives so many who are battling neurological diseases. It seems that we must convince the government/public that these lives are SURELY as important as those who might have been. Thank you, Dave Iverson, for this loving tribute to your father and to many others whose lives were documented in the Frontline program.

Dave Iverson: That really means a lot to me ... thank you so much!

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Largo, Florida: Hi Dave,

Has your understanding of Parkinson's evolved or become more nuanced as you've conducted your in-depth investigation? If so, how has that changed your expectations for prevention and treatment in your lifetime?

Thanks.

Dave Iverson: It's a great question ... it has become more nuanced ... and while I do think we'll get to a cure someday ... I think I view this now as a more complicated battle ... and that it's not so much about winning and losing ... as it is fighting ... and that through fighting we find our way to hope ... and that with hope ... we can stay in the game ... In a way I feel like our job is the hope part ... and if we do that, the scientists will get us there.

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Chicago, Ill.: Last night I watched you throughout the entire show and saw no symptoms other than when you were running. I missed what your original symptoms were; however, how long was it before you started taking medication?

Dave Iverson: My symptoms remain very mild ... the arm swing, a slight tremor from time to time in my left hand ... and I make more mistakes typing! But I'm very lucky. I continue to do very well. I took no meds the first two years ... on Azilect since.

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Eau Claire, Wisconsin: If anyone is having trouble submitting a question or comment because of difficulty typing, I can personally recommend voice recognition software. It's not very expensive and works very well in relieving the burden of typing.

Dave Iverson: Good point! Thank you for noting it!

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Richmond, Va.: Did you find anyone doing research with yoga and Parkinson's? My mom has Parkinson's and has been doing yoga and exercise. She is doing quite well.

Dave Iverson: Yoga is another good option I think ... My daughter is a yoga teacher among other things and is developing a class where she lives for people with PD.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota: Could you please talk more about the loss of sense of smell which you mentioned in the interview on Fresh Air on NPR.

Dave Iverson: Many doctors say it's an early warning sign ... happens in many patients though not all ... true for my brother, for example, but not for my Dad or me. It also makes reseachers think this is a more complicated disease ... it's not just dopamine production ... if the olfactory system is involved too ... same with constipation ... if it's in the gut, what else is going on? We have so much to learn!

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San Francisco, Calif.: Which is better: group exercise and walking on a treadmill a couple of times a week better or walking outdoors for 30 minutes daily? Why?

Would you recommend joining a peer support group? Why?

Dave Iverson: Good questions ... we don't yet which exercise is best ... or even if it definitively does ... just a growing body of research that suggests that. Personally, I walk and run 15-20 miles a week and then do weight work 3 times a week. But that's just my routine ... not based yet on anything scientific. As for support groups ... totally a personal question. I'm not in one ... but it works well for lots of people.

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Duluth, MN: Can you please comment about PD and diet? Thanks.

Dave Iverson: I don't know enough to answer with authority ... I do know that protein can be a factor in inhibiting the way the meds work ... lots of studies going on now looking at the neuroprotetive possibilities of everything from coffee, to green tea to blueberries ... but more research is needed. I'd go to one of th PD sites ... MJF or APDA or NPF or PDF and see what they have available.

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Binghamton, N.Y.: Hi Dave, Peter Sauer's astonishing turnaround from the fetal cell implants was inspirational. Perhaps I misunderstood, but because a later study, performed slightly differently than in Peter's case, was not promising, they abandoned the idea. Why don't they go back to exactly how it was done in Halifax? Or is fetal cell implanting simply so controversial because of the right-to-life controversy?

Another question... If they are going to dispose of the embroyos anyway, why are the pro-life supporters so opposed to using them to help people? Perhaps that is too political/philosophical for this discussion.

Thank you for the light you've shed on PD this week (especially for those families in rural communities where there is not a huge PD community to support them).

Dave Iverson: Actually the Halifax team does plan to continue the work ... but the U of Colorado results were so discouraging that it did largely freeze the field. But it's an excellent point ... it's not just whether something works ... it's how you do it ... same will be true for stem cells.

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Montgomery, Alabama: Thank you for your informative piece on Parkinson's Disease. I was diagnosed six years ago and probably felt the first symptoms two years earlier. I was 56. I was devastated and due to other health issues, breast cancer and two brain aneurysms, I felt defeated. Not for long. I continued to walk and practice yoga. Now at age 62 I am teaching yoga! I encourage all of those with PD to continue moving no matter how small that movement is. Stay informed about new medications and research. It is not the end of your life, it can be a new beginning. I'm not perky every day but I get up and participate in my life.

Dave Iverson: Fabulous attitude ... thank you!

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: To the marathon runner with early-onset PD who is terrified: please recommend that he read John Ball's book, "Living Well, Running Hard." John is 62, has had PD for 35 years, and is still running marathons! He and his wife, Edna, run LA's "Team Parkinson's," the charity of the LA Marathon. Go and meet him, and run the LA Marathon with him. He's a close friend, and will cheer you on.

Dave Iverson: Thanks for adding ... the John Ball story is a great one.

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Yorkville, Illinois: The difference between the Halifax and the Colorado surgical techniques was not discussed. Has the Halifax work been duplicated, and if so, to what end? If not, why not?

Dave Iverson: I wish we could have explored this more deeply ... just tough to cover all the ground you want to ... if you google Ole Isacson at Harvard or Ivar Mendez at Halifax, you can learn more about their work.

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Atlanta, Ga.: I enjoyed the program and thought it was well done. I have a relative with end-stage Parkinson's and want a cure as much as anyone, but I thought you gave short shrift to the bioethical concerns. I would have liked to hear more of what Krauthammer had to say about that and less adherence to the longstanding media template that George Bush has been the biggest obstacle between suffering patients and a cure for Parkinson's. And Limbaugh admittedly is brash, but you took him out of context. I saw no reason to have him in there. Don't misunderstand, I still found the show informative and entertaining.

Dave Iverson: I appreciate your concerns and I regret if you didn't find it balanced enough ... Krauthammer's points are fascinating and important ... I think he's very thoughtful guy. And I too find this complex ... I was raised Catholic ... so it's not an easy issue ... and we did our best to represent its complexity but I hear you ... and I'll try to keep that in mind in future work.

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La Crosse, Wis.: I first became aware of this program last week and wondered if the producer, Dave Iverson was "our" Dave Iverson whom I had watched for so long on Wisconsin Public Television. I also have a personal interest in the disease as both my father, then my mother were diagnosed and ultimately succumbed to Parkinson's Disease. Dave, you have captured exactly the way patients and their families handle the slow, inevitable progression of the disease. Bless you for putting your own experience into a thoughtful, intelligent and HUMAN program. Congratulations for getting it to "Frontline," one of the most respected programs on television. Best of luck with your future fight.

Dave Iverson: Yup, it's me! And I do miss Wisconsin ... even in the winter!

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Richmond, VA: Can exercise help a patient with advanced Parkinson's (and age)?

Dave Iverson: My own view is that it's never too late to exercise ... but please see your physician ... there may be other things going on that suggest you should follow one course of action or another.

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Appleton, Wis.: Dave, I was a big fan of your work at Wis Public TV and feel like I have a new ally in my fight against PD. I was a journalist and know I can't go back to the stress of a daily newsroom but maybe I still have one story to tell. I was diagnosed the very week I was debating whether to take my current job. As you said, I wake up every morning and go to bed every night thinking about what the disease will bring. I also debate every day whether it's time to stop hiding it from my friends, my coworkers and my parents. What made you decide it was time and how quickly did you come to that decision?

Dave Iverson: It was acutally my brother who made that point ... but it does sum up I think how many people feel. For me going public was pretty easy ... perhaps because my symptoms are mild ... but it's probably part of who I am ... I guess I'm just talky by nature! but having said that, it's a very personal decision ... and lots of people, including Mike Kinsley the writer, held back ... he wrote a great column about that for Time that you might want to Google. It's personal ... when to be public... and we should all respect how each person proceeds.

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Phoenixville, Pa.: Some people have been asking about clinical trials. Here is a great resource to find one in your area. PDTrials is led by PDF.

Dave Iverson: Thanks for adding that!

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White Plains, N.Y.: I am interested in the Parkinson's assistance dogs. Where do you get a dog trained for this?

Dave Iverson: Sorry I don't know about this. Perhaps someone participating can add a thought?

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San Diego, Calif.: Just a quick reminder, April is Parkinson's Awereness Month and many communities have walks and other events planned. Check with the PD web sites for more info and get involved.

Dave Iverson: Thank you for mentioning that!

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Dallas, Texas: Dear Dave, Your documentary was truly moving and inspirational, especially for those of us who work on PD research for a living. Thank you for showing the public a side of Michael J. Fox that most people don't see. The trust and confidence he's placed in the scientists who receive research funding from his Foundation have enabled us to conduct research and train bright young scientists during hard economic times and limited NIH funding -- he has accelerated the pace of innovative research and I am confident the field will find new ways to prevent or treat the disease in his lifetime!

Dave Iverson: Thanks for writing and thank you for the work that you do. I couldn't agree more with your comments about Michael. Michael J. Fox is simply an extraordinary human being.

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washingtonpost.com: Michael Kinsley's column on his Parkinson's diagnosis (reprinted in The Guardian from Time Magazine)

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Rochester Mich.: Dave -- Thanks for your film. It could have been my family, except the title would have to be "My Dad, HIS Brother, and Me."

Did you bump into anybody using hypnosis with Parkinson's (other than me)?

Dave Iverson: I don't know about hypnosis ... but it wouldn't surprise me. There is research going on about PD on everything from tango to tai chi!

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Old Bridge, N.J.: My maternal grandmother and her eldest son both had PD, which all our MDs said was not hereditary. We have a lage family, now starting the fourth generation since them, and so far, no symptoms. Are there tests which show markers and do you think we should investigate?

Dave Iverson: Really hard to know ... just because more than one family members has PD does not necessarily mean its genetic ... but there are many research institutions studying this including Mayo, Indiana U, Parkinson's Inst ... and volunteers are really crucial to furthering knowledge.

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16th and M: How much of a role did you play in the giving of care to your father? Did you spend the night at the house, etc.

This is something our family is grappling with right now.

Dave Iverson: It's such a good question. The honest answer is not a great deal. I lived two thousand miles away and while I visited as often as I could ... the day to day was on my Mom. He spent the last two years of his life in a convalescent hospital. One other note ... my 96 year old Mom became quite ill a year ago and I moved in with her ... it's an amazing experience ... I have great caregivers during the day for whom I'm so grateful ... caregiving is a huge challenge... but it can bring extraordinary closeness as well.

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New York, NY: Hi Dave...

First, I want to say I thought the piece was great -- very informative, very human. Thanks for sharing your story.

I'm Debi Brooks, Co-founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and I hope it's not inappropriate for me to post this offer here. But, you all are asking many important and relevant questions about disease and living with disease... these are the kind of questions we often hear when we host our research roundtables (presentations and panel discussions plus Q and A that are free and open to the public) in various cities around the U.S. I wanted to let folks know that next Monday evening we are also webcasting our Atlanta roundtable. If you are interested in registering for this roundtable in person in Atlanta or participating via the web, please go to our web site www.michaeljfox.org and sign up.

Thanks and, again, Dave... well done.

Debi

Dave Iverson: Not inappropriate at all. Thank you to you and Michael and Katie Hood and everyone else there. And I should also note that so many other PD orgs have great resources too ... so check them all out!

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Sydney Australia: My name is Sarah, I am a 22 year old student and a few years ago my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's. We were familiar with the disease as his father was diagnosed with it many years before. Since my fathers diagnosis I have been doing everything I can to raise the profile of this disease with in Australia and no one wants to hear. For later this month I have organized a group to cycle from Sydney to Melbourne with the aim of turning a few heads and hopefully some more acceptance and effort into research. How else can I raise the profile? Is there anyone who can help? I am currently working with organizations such as Parkinson's Australia and know that there is more we can do; we just need people to listen.

Any Ideas? Please let me know, I can't lose hope.

Regards,

Sarah

Dave Iverson: Don't lose hope! Tons of great resources ... please visit all the sites and ask ... APDA, PDF, NPF, PAN, MJFF among others.

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Lawrenceville, N.J.: I am so inspired by this show. I've always hated to exercise and thought that getting the PD diagnosis in 2004 would surely make me exercise. I know it's good for me but it's so hard to be motivated to get up on that treadmill. The science behind exercising, especially illustrated by the monkeys, is awe-inspiring. The whole show is packed with important info!

I am immensely grateful to Dave Iverson for giving us all such a gift. I experienced such a shift in myself that has brought more peace, acceptance and hope.

Thank you so much.

Dave Iverson: I am SO grateful to you for saying that. Makes my day!

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Temple, Texas: I am a board certified music therapist working with people with PD at a National Parkinson Foundation Care Center. Many of our patients were alerted to your program, and I'm glad I could steer them to a wonderful representation of what they are dealing with in their lives.

I would like to comment on and ask a question about one issue. The embryonic stem cell debate was a big issue in your meaningful program. I did not hear any mention of the fact that embryonic stem cells are not the only stem cells that are being researched, and that some of these projects (to which right-to-life proponents have no objection) have very promising results. Did you find any of that research in your planning of the show?

Again, thank you for bringing this debilitating disease to the public, and for giving people hope.

Dave Iverson: We did reference obliquely the new efforts at research not dependent on embyronic stem cells ... but you're right, it's very promising ... and most people feel we should proceed down both paths. Wish we could have delved into it more.

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Springfield, Va.: Great program and I listened on Fresh Air on Monday.

But I was suprised that there was no mention of traumatic head injury like with Muhammad Ali.

Also, how much exposure to herbicide/pesticides will trigger Parkinson's? The farm worker has a lot more exposure that someone using them occasionally in a home. Or a chemist studying them in a lab.

Dave Iverson: The connection to head injuries is interesting too ... we just couldn't cover everything!

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Dave Iverson: Wow ... this was really something. Thanks everyone for responding. I'm sorry I couldn't get to everyone's question. But please visit our Frontline site at pbs.org/frontline. We have ongoing discussion there for the next week and we'll try to get to your questions.

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