Maureen Smith has a rare hormonal disorder and is living proof that new medicines matter and can make a world of difference.
Maureen talks about her illness from when she was first diagnosed, through her symptoms as a child, her initial treatment, and the 20 year period from 18 to 38 when she had no available treatment, during which her ...
Maureen describes the symptoms of her illness as a child and the treatment she received through a clinical trial to stop the progression of her illness. She stopped receiving treatment at 18 to allow other children ...
Maureen talks about the 20 year period when she didn't have access to the medication she needed. She talks about the decline of her health, and some specifics incidents that describe the nature of her ...
Maureen talks about the overwhelming feeling of gratitude she has for her medicine and her hopes for the future.
OTTAWA, Sept. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - Twenty years ago Maureen Smith's optimism
and hopeful outlook was starting to wane. Her body was deteriorating
and everyday activities were a struggle. A rare hormonal disorder
continued to wreak havoc on her body - as it had since she was born.
Maureen has congenital panhypopituitarism. Diagnosed at age 8, doctors
discovered Maureen's body didn't produce growth hormone and there was
no stimulation to her endocrine glands. Her growth was stunted and she
had the skeletal composition of a four year-old. But as a child Maureen
had hope. She was enrolled in a clinical trial for human growth hormone
in Montreal that would replace what her body could not produce.
"I received the drug for six months at a time. For six months I would
feel sluggish and ill but then I would get the drug and for the next
six months I would feel normal," says Maureen. "The trial worked very
well and I grew to just over five feet."
But the trial was for children and at age 18 Maureen withdrew herself to
allow another child to take her place. Years later a synthetic version
of the growth hormone was developed but it was again only approved for
use in children. Over the next 20 years Maureen began to deteriorate.
She fractured her back and had to begin using a walker, fat began to
encase her heart and she was in and out of the hospital. Maureen was
determined not to let her disease dictate her life. She began searching
for a way to gain access to the new synthetic hormone, and she needed a
doctor who was willing to help.
"When you're very ill all you concentrate on is getting better."
After years of letter writing and fighting for access to the medicine
she so desperately needed, at age 38, Maureen was admitted to a new
clinical trial providing the synthetic hormone to adults. It was
"It changed my life. I threw away my walker, began riding a bike and
laced up my skates," says Maureen. It took seven years for her doctor
to find the right dose but now Maureen's condition is under control.
"I'm healthier now at 53 than I was at 25. I have a quality of life now
that I never dreamed of in my 30's."
That new quality of life includes her recent marriage to Jim McQuaid.
"It's difficult to meet people when you have an illness," says Maureen.
"When I got better I was able to find a wonderful man and we have a
terrific life together. I wouldn't have any of this without my new
There are good days and there are some bad but Jim takes them in stride
and is thankful for the new life they have together. "There are some
stresses but for the most part she functions very well. I'm always
amazed at how a handful of pills can change a person in a couple of
hours," says Jim.
Maureen now focuses her attention on the needs of others, working for
the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD), a national network
for organizations representing all those with rare disorders. CORD is
currently advocating for a national orphan drug policy for the
treatment of rare disorders. "I'm very passionate of the work I do with
CORD," says Maureen. "Only fifty percent of the medications available
for rare diseases are available in Canada. I know first-hand what it's
like not to have access to a drug."
"Without her medicine, I presume she would be lying in a bed somewhere
and I wouldn't have met her," says Jim.
Maureen also takes the time to share her story with others and using
opportunities to meet with researchers to thank them for the daunting
work they do. "I always say thank you and to please continue working. I
am the embodiment of what they do and I am standing here today because
of their research."
There is a lot of work to be done but Maureen is hopeful for the future.
"I always had hope, I didn't give up but it was very difficult. Now all
I see is the future and I take care of myself so I can make the most of
Rx&D is the association of leading research-based pharmaceutical
companies dedicated to improving the health of Canadians through the
discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines. Our community
represents the men and women working for more than 50 member companies
and invests more than $1 billion in research and development each year
to fuel Canada's knowledge-based economy. Guided by our Code of Ethical
Practices, our membership is committed to working in partnership with
governments, healthcare professionals and stakeholders in a highly
Video with caption: "Maureen Smith has a rare hormonal disorder and is living proof that new medicines matter and can make a world of difference.". Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMYoSTOphRw&feature=plcp
Image with caption: "Maureen Smith is 53 years old, and lives in Ottawa. She has been living with a rare hormonal disorder for her whole life. Her condition means she has no growth hormone, and without innovative medicine - she would most certainly be an invalid, and would likely be dead. (CNW Group/CANADA'S RESEARCH-BASED PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES (RX&D))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120909_C5063_PHOTO_EN_17590.jpg
Image with caption: "Maureen says that she is healthier at 53 than she was at 30, and this is entirely due to the fact that she got on a clinical trial of an innovative medicine that has changed her life, and given her hope. Recently married, she lives an active healthy life with her husband Jim. (CNW Group/CANADA'S RESEARCH-BASED PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES (RX&D))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120909_C5063_PHOTO_EN_17589.jpg
Audio with caption: "Maureen talks about her illness from when she was first diagnosed, through her symptoms as a child, her initial treatment, and the 20 year period from 18 to 38 when she had no available treatment, during which her health deteriorated rapidly. Eventually, at 38 she found a clinical trial for a new medicine that reversed her symptoms. She is now 53, newly married, and lives a healthy happy life in Ottawa with her husband Jim.". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/09/09/20120909_C5063_AUDIO_EN_17593.mp3
Audio with caption: "Maureen describes the symptoms of her illness as a child and the treatment she received through a clinical trial to stop the progression of her illness. She stopped receiving treatment at 18 to allow other children to benefit from the clinical trial.". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/09/09/20120909_C5063_AUDIO_EN_17594.mp3
Audio with caption: "Maureen talks about the 20 year period when she didn't have access to the medication she needed. She talks about the decline of her health, and some specifics incidents that describe the nature of her condition. Finally at 38, she was able to participate in a clinical trial for a new medicine that reversed her symptoms and allows her to lead a normal healthy life.". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/09/09/20120909_C5063_AUDIO_EN_17595.mp3
Audio with caption: "Maureen talks about the overwhelming feeling of gratitude she has for her medicine and her hopes for the future.". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/09/09/20120909_C5063_AUDIO_EN_17596.mp3
SOURCE: CANADA'S RESEARCH-BASED PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES (RX&D)
For further information:
Vice President, Public Affairs & Partnerships
Telephone: 613-236-0455 ext. 627