In 2019, I walked in my first Walk to End Alzheimer's. For me, it is a powerful way to honor the memory of my dad and aunt. With the research being done for Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders, it also is a way to protect my brother and myself from going through what they did.
In 2007, my dad suffered a hemorrhagic stroke ultimately leading to open-brain surgery to remove a large blood clot. In doing so, the surgeon discovered the cause of the brain bleeds: a build up of amyloid proteins on the brain surface called Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy (CAA). These weaken the blood vessels and cause hemorrhagic strokes. This is usually found post-mortem in Alzheimer's patients and is thought to be a leading cause of the disease. Most people never have open-brain surgery to discover, as my dad did. In a way, we were lucky to have found out the diagnosis, but saddened to know there was no treatment and no cure.
For the next 8 years, we watched my dad decline. He was trapped in a body that functioned and a mind that didn't. He once was the smartest man I knew. Watching him struggle with everyday tasks, become combative, thinking 1 + 1 = 5, lose his independence, and eventually not recognize us was something I hope no family ever has to experience.
I was always daddy's little girl. For him to look at me and not know who I was broke my heart.
We lost my dad in Oct 2015 after suffering multiple hemorrhagic strokes. He was surrounded by me, my brother, and my mom. I was blessed to be able to sing Ave Maria (one of his favorites) as he drifted into God's arms. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him. The feeling of helplessness we felt not being able to treat him was terrible. I wish that on no one.
The last several years his sister, my Aunt Florence, started showing signs of dementia. It scared me to think she was on the same path as my dad. And it scares me even more that this could be a path for me, my brother, and my cousins. She is no longer with us. She was a shining light that brought happiness all around her. She is sorely missed.
We need to find a treatment or a cure! Research is getting closer but needs our help to fund and advocate for it. With your help we can!
Thank you for reading my story.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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