Participant Testimonials

In the fight of his life, David Zaas found peace of mind by enrolling in a clinical trial. Read more.

Iris Poole, who has a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), signed up for the RESP-FIT study once she learned about it from her health coach. The study was testing whether a six-week exercise program using a breathing device would help to improve lung function and manage symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty breathing in patients with COPD.

Poole believes her participation in the exercise program helped her to quit smoking and better manage her symptoms.

“I used to smoke like a pack and a half a day,” said Poole. “Now that I’ve quit, I can do lots of exercises I couldn't do before, and I don't have to use my nebulizer as much now as I used to.”

Poole is now a believer in clinical trials, and she’s already signed up for another one in June. She’s urging others to participate.

“I would 100% suggest it,” said Poole. “You have to have faith and trust in yourself that you can do these things. A lot of the time, we believe we can't do it. No, you can do it. If I did it, I tell the world, anybody can do it.”

Not only has Poole helped herself, but she has helped others as well, according to Sarah Miller, Ph.D., who led the RESP-FIT study.

“The study has provided valuable insight into self-management of COPD symptoms and the effects of respiratory muscle strength training in COPD,” said Miller. “Results from this study will inform the development of new interventions to help patients increase activity levels and self-manage their COPD symptoms.”

Debra Brigham learned of the MUSC-led Partners at Meals study from the director of The ARK, a respite care center in Summerville, South Carolina, that had provided care for her mother with dementia. When her mother died, Brigham began volunteering there. Partners at Meals trains respite care volunteers to help caregivers to improve mealtime and overall quality of life for these patients.

As Brigham knew from her own experience with her mother, it can be a challenge to maintain good nutrition in patients with Alzheimer’s.

“Once patients have Alzheimer's, their brain doesn't recognize various textures and different temperatures in the mouth anymore. It recognizes it as something else. For instance, they don't want to drink water and have a hard time swallowing it.”

After completing her training, Brigham connected with caregivers virtually to observe mealtimes and logged how much the patients with dementia ate and drank and other details about the meal. She then shared that information with study staff, who suggested techniques for improving the experience.

“When I saw that those techniques worked, and the caregivers were happy and able to manage the mealtimes better with their loved ones with dementia, that was very rewarding for me,” said Brigham.

Based on her experience, Brigham is encouraging her friends to participate in clinical trials. She thinks it’s an empowering way to address a disease because it enables you to do something to make a difference.

“You can read an article about diabetes while you’re sitting in the doctor's waiting room, but that’s just an article,” explained Brigham. “But if you read a research brochure at the doctor’s waiting room, then you can take action and participate in a study if you're having that problem or know someone who is having that problem.”