Two days into the clinical trial, I knew the medication was working. I cannot confirm that I was on the drug as the double-blinded study prevents revealing this information until after the trial is complete. The only data I had was my own assessment of my lungs, a personal biological feedback system honed from living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) my entire life. I could not stop smiling for the four weeks I was on the trial… this was going to be a game changer.
Optimistic in nature, the clinical trial lifted me to new heights. Although not a cure, it will be the biggest CF breakthrough in my 48 years on the planet. The thought of this medication coming to market fuels my optimism and dictates my strategy moving forward – stay healthy so I can take advantage of this medication when it becomes available. I am getting the chills just thinking about it.
My name is Mark Levine and I am the 2018 Great Strides Ambassador for Southeast Michigan. And yes, I am pumped up.
I consider myself lucky. I am a husband, a stepfather and a full time engineer working for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. My wife and I like to travel, I enjoy playing tennis and I hit the gym at work every morning before I head up to my office. Yet some may not think I was so lucky. Diagnosed with CF at the age of two, I watched my younger brother struggle and ultimately lose his battle with CF at the age of 21, three years post lung transplant. I do up to six breathing treatments per day, take pills every time I eat and I have been on home IV antibiotics close to a dozen times. Every day I fight and so far, I have made it work.
I grew up in Connecticut, attended Lehigh University and studied mechanical engineering. After graduation, I became more involved with the CF Foundation, speaking and fundraising in Michigan and Indiana. I never thought I would be the one to find the big treatment or cure for CF but I always knew I would be part of the process.
By leading a Great Strides team for as many years as I can remember and participating in five clinical trials, I can say with conviction that I am making things happen. Yet none of these new drugs in the pipeline for CF, and there are fifty in the works right now, would be without hundreds of walk teams and thousands of walkers across the country, like yourself, raising money to support their very existence. Not sure if you are making a difference? I will keep it simple. You are.
I am looking forward to you joining me in making history. See you at Great Strides.
Important note on Attendance at Foundation Events:
Infections can exacerbate CF symptoms and worsen lung function, so we ask attendees at Foundation-sponsored events to observe the following best practices to reduce the risk of germ transmission:
Regularly wash hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand gel.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow.
Maintain a safe 6-foot distance from anyone with a cold or infection.
To further reduce the risk of cross-infection, the Foundation’s attendance policy recommends that all people with CF maintain a safe 6-foot distance from each other at all times while attending an outdoor Foundation-sponsored event. All Great Strides walks are non-smoking events.