It was a strange time to talk about stem cell research. We were at a post funeral reception in one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen outside the city's Botanic Gardens. I knew only a few family members, who were all busy greeting people, so I found a place to sit and tried to make light conversation with the person next to me.
What do you talk about after funerals with people you've never met? The obvious answer is, you talk about the deceased. How did you know him? Wasn't it a beautiful service? And then you share a memory or two in hopes it will spark something and your small talk won't fizzle.
This time it was a challenge. The woman I spoke with didn't know the man who had died or his family, whom her husband had known growing up. I was definitely starting to fizzle when she mentioned her husband has Parkinson's disease. Imagine my relief! That doesn't sound right, but at least it gave us something to talk about.
I was even more excited when she told me he had participated in a study on stem cell treatment soon after he had been diagnosed - years ago. I asked if I could talk with him. She agreed and led me over to where he was having a smoke with friends. What he told me was impressive. The study had been done through the University of Colorado with private funding. This was during the Bush years and the moratorium on federal funding of stem cell research.
He has never been on medication for Parkinson's and has only the occasional tremor when he is very tired. Otherwise, he's fine.
I didn't have time to ask any more questions. It was a funeral reception, after all, and I didn't want to take up too much of his time. I have a whole list of things I'd love to ask, such as:
Did this involve brain surgery? What were his symptoms before the treatment? How many participants had good results? Did he, or does he use any alternative remedies to help with his Parkinson's. I wanted to ask him about one remedy in particular. I couldn't have been sure, but he had the aura of permanent mellow which is often associated with the early and enthusiastic cannabis researchers.
Oh well, I was glad I had the chance to talk with him. I'd love to learn more about past studies in stem cell treatments. I'll definitely be asking my neurologist about this when I go in to see her again. It would be really cool if Colorado was one of the leaders in this research.
If nothing else, we know Colorado will be right in the forefront with cannabis research. If we can't be cured, at least we can be mellow.