Welcome to My Page

Matthew Keswick

I have Parkinson's. There, I said it. I have Parkinson's Disease.

Lately, many of my friends have been quietly asking if I am doing alright. I know they care about me, but more importantly have surmised that my slight hand tremor, occasional shuffle of the feet or the lazy right shoulder have all added up to me having a neurological disease - yes, Parkinson's.

It all started on a trip to Las Vegas and the Wynn casino four years ago, playing an innocent game of craps. As the dice made their way around the table for me to shoot, I developed a tremor. I knew it wasn't nerves. I knew it was something worse.

At the urging of my family, I went to see a neurologist and was referred to a Movement Disorder Specialist who confirmed my gut diagnosis. It was already a terrible time in my life as my father had just entered hospice the day before. I was alone but faced reality. In some aspects, the diagnosis was a blessing. The bubble had been burst and I could now begin to personally address the situation.

Luckily, I got the best diagnosis - early onset - meaning I have a long runway. Think of the actor, Michael J Fox - diagnosed in his late twenties and continues to have a thriving television and movie career. That's me.

After the diagnosis, I decided to address it like my client crises - head on. I began to engage with the staff and doctors at Beth Israel Medical Center to build relationships and gain knowledge.

I also engaged with the Michael J Fox Foundation. Within weeks of my phone call, Debi Brooks, the Co-Founder with Michael, flew to Boston to have breakfast with me. I was immediately impressed by her and the Foundation. Debi left a lucrative Wall Street career to start the organization with Michael, having no prior connection to him or the disease. They raise 100 million dollars each year and keep their overhead at 10 percent. I was extremely impressed. The Fox Foundation raises almost as much as the federal government funds for Parkinson's research annually.

Needless to say, I not only became a donor to the foundation, but have become a resource for them politically. I was recently appointed the Fox Foundation's Public Policy Council and have brought my lobbying skills to help others in this arena. I have been lucky enough to spend time with Michael over the past two years and I am truly inspired by him.

He took his Hollywood brand and put in on the line to help others. He is fully engaged in the cause and not in name only. We had great meetings on Capitol Hill in February and met up at a poker tournament in New York. He is doing great things.

So what about me? I am great - well most days. Occasionally, a tremor kicks in at TSA screening at the airport and then the sweats begin. Then, I am asked to follow an officer to an interrogation room - all true. Embarrassing for me to start, but then the table turns.

My work and family life are tremendous. Ironically, my business has grown exponentially since the diagnosis. My family time has become more focused, as has my work. I enjoy the support of my family and great friends - especially my wife, Christy.

Some days are better than others. Some days it's hard to button my shirt collar or throw a perfect spiral to my seven year old. Small problems.

I continue to work hard and play hard. I am not going to let something like this tear me down or change my life. I have had some minor life adjustments, but who doesn't at age 40.

You will continue to see me in my signature vests at the State House, on vacation with family, at Celtics and Patriots games and of course, playing soccer with Anderson.

I only have two requests of you -

To live everyday to the fullest with me, and;

To choose happiness despite what obstacles are thrown in the way.

As Michael says, "The only unavailable choice was whether or not to have Parkinson's. Everything else was up to me."

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1. KBKristen Bierwirth
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