14th March 2017
Matt Eagles is a patient adviser and friend of Havas Lynx. Matt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 7 and has now been living with the illness for over 40 years. Matt shares our ambition to drive better outcomes for patients, is inspiring to work with and incredibly passionate about patient engagement. He tells a fascinating tale of living with Parkinson’s and his experience of healthcare. As such, Matt was asked to speak at the prestigious WIRED Health conference last week, and he blew the audience away. Below, Matt talks about his experience at the event.
It’s not every day you get the privilege of being asked to be a keynote speaker at one of the most prestigious, innovate and forward thinking healthcare events on the world calendar that helps shape the future of medicine but at precisely 11.00pm on the 13th February IT happened….
I was just climbing into bed when the message arrived, my wife immediately started questioning me on who-on-earth was contacting me at this hour, so I opened the message….
“It’s Dr Jack.” I replied casually, “He’s asking whether I would speak at a conference in March in London.”
“And are you?” She replied in a very matter-of-fact sort of way.
“Yes.” I said proudly, “I think I am.”
Events quickly snowballed and after several emails and phone interviews logistics were confirmed and I travelled down to London to where the event was to be held – 30 Euston Square. I found myself surrounded by some of the finest brains science and medicine have to offer, and upon introduction, I found out they were very much looking forward to MY talk – no pressure then!
The evening before the event was the speakers’ dinner. I was on a table with Wired Editor Greg Williams and couple of Wired UK journalists but also Middelthon-Candler Peace Prize winner and Philanthropist / Venture Capitalist, Khaliya. Also joining us was the engaging Daisy Robinton, a post-doctoral scientist at Harvard University and the speaker who was immediately following me on the main stage the following day. It’s astonishing how relaxed you can become after pan-fried welsh lamb and a couple of glasses of South African Cabernet Shiraz 2015.
I spent the morning of the event like an excited child, hungry to learn and certainly not averse to trying out as much tech as I could – be it VR to assist surgeons teaching surgical techniques to students, or phone apps from Brainbow helping mindfulness and brain training.
I was first to talk in the afternoon in a section entitled ‘End Of Aging’ in what was a packed lecture theatre. Deciding it was a better bet for me to talk sitting down I was onstage already when I was introduced to the audience by Dr Jack Kreindler. I began with a bold claim that I already had Michael Flattley’s part in the next series of Riverdance shows, which broke the ice and relaxed me a little too. The next ten minutes or so I can barely remember as I told my story of 41 years with Parkinson’s. The red light discreetly placed on a monitor at the front of the stage winked frantically at me reminding me to wrap up my talk as my allotted time was quickly coming to an end…. just as I was beginning to enjoy myself too.
There followed an amazing talk by Daisy Robinton as she explored bioengineering and its potential to end ageing and Liz Parrish who astonished the audience with her talk about dual gene therapies and the treatment of age-related issues.
The event was summed up in the final scheduled talk of the day by Stanford and Harvard trained expert in Exponential Medicine Daniel Kraft. Daniel left me with a huge smile on my face and a feeling of absolute awe of what we can expect in the future of medicine.
With so many talented people working to improve outcomes, I genuinely believe the future for our health is bright and in safe hands.
Quotes from TWITTER following my talk:
“It was amazing to have Matt Eagles at the conference to tell his story. He has been living with Parkinson’s disease since the age of 7.
“His story was touching and moving, as he shared intimate details of his life and the struggle with his condition. He puts clear perspective in our lives — that we shouldn’t take our health for granted and we can’t shy away in our attempts to improve the lives of the people around us.”
“Everyone deserves an equal footing to live life at the high quality. People like Matt serve as our North Star — a guiding light in the darkness that surrounds us.”