My sister, Christine Mace, suffered a C5/C6 spinal cord injury in March 2002, as the result of a pool accident. At that time, she was a freshman attending school in Tempe, Arizona.
When our family came together in the Scottsdale hospital to begin our vigil in the ICU later that day, we knew next-to-nothing about spinal cord injuries. Over the following weeks, we learned the medical facts of Christine’s new reality from her doctors and therapists. We were, however, sorely lacking in our understanding and expectation of what her future held—the real impact of Christine’s injury on her life and ours.
When a friend of mine from the Achilles Track Club introduced me to Fran Brown a short time later, I had little idea of the valuable information and help that my family would receive from ATBF in the ensuing months. Dinner with Fran, who is Executive Director of the Foundation, was the start of a tremendous amount of information sharing, support and care.
As a result of the Foundation’s efforts, my sister has learned about and undertaken cutting-edge therapies. All the while, we have been buoyed up by the boundless kindness and thoughtfulness of Fran Brown.
This past May, Christine and I traveled to Miami, where Christine underwent biofeedback therapy with Dr. Bernard Brucker, a relationship initiated by Fran and The Alan T Brown Foundation. While in Florida, we also met with representatives of the Miami Project, which receives meaningful support from ATBF, and visited Miami Physical Therapy for an evaluation and physical therapy with Robin Smith—yet another ATBF-initiated relationship.
This trip has given Christine a deeper understanding of the true state of her injury and provided her with a benchmark from which to set future therapy goals. Most importantly, it has helped her to realize the breadth of research underway to advance effective therapies for spinal cord research. These efforts will improve Christine’s physical life in the future, and knowing this improves her psychological outlook today.
While we all hope, pray and strive for an effective “cure” for SCI, life must go on for my sister, and the others who live their lives with paralyzing injuries. We feel fortunate to have been touched by Fran Brown and The Alan T Brown Foundation. Their efforts continue to color our hopes for the future—that science and understanding will lead to a better tomorrow for those with spinal cord injuries.