The families of people with rare conditions often feel like they have to live two lives.

For the person they love and care about, their son or daughter or their parent, they want to put on a tough and sunny face. When they take their loved one out in public, they want everyone to see just how strong the family is and how everyone should be grateful. They grit and smile through the treatment side-effects, through awkward glances, through long nights.

Then there is the other life. The one where they just break down. The one that they try to keep hidden from the world and maybe even that person they care about. They keep it hidden because they may come across as weak or ungrateful or even self-centered. But, of course, they are humans. And they are bound to feel the weight of despair, the confusion of unpredictability, and the odd joy of loving someone through tough times.

Unless you have had to live this dual life, everything that I just said can still just remain a theory – something that you can turn off now and go about your day. But for the people with rare conditions and the families around them, this is a reality – day-in and day-out.

Effie Parks is someone who has lived that dual life and come out the other side. And she is someone who has merged those two lives and offered an alternative for caregivers and advocates.

She is the proud mother of Ford, her son born with an extremely rare condition. Her desire to create the best life for Ford drove her into advocacy and to create “Once Upon a Gene,” an inspiring podcast that reveals the stories of the people living dealing with that dual life.

On this episode, we both get real and swap stories about the despair of diagnosis day, the hopes we have for our families, and our challenge to a health care industry still blind to the nuances of life with rare disease.

It is an unflinching look at real life, and I know that you will enjoy it.

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More About Effie Parks

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Once Upon a Gene Podcast

Effie Parks Bio
Effie Parks was born in the magical land of Montana, where she was raised with her 12 loving siblings.  After moving to Washington and marrying her husband, they were blessed with the birth of their son, Ford Canon Parks.  When she learned that Ford had been born with an extremely rare genetic condition – CTNNB1 syndrome – she dove into the world of advocacy.  Now, she is the host of her own podcast, Once Upon a Gene, where she speaks to others about their journey through life with rare disease.

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Music Credits:

Westpoint Instrumental by  Sun Shapes