I remember the day 14 years ago when my Mom called me and told me my Dad had just been to see the doctor and was told he has "memory problems". I was in Nursing school at the time and I remember hanging up the phone and feeling devastated. The first couple of years following my Dad's diagnosis I felt powerless. It broke my heart to watch my Pops, the man I call my Dad, my hero - the man that walked into my life when I was 15 and changed my life forever after my biological Father had walked out on my Mother, Brother and Me - a man with a Doctorate in Education, two masters degrees and a degree in electrical engineering who could fix anything (Handy Andy we call him) - struggle just to complete his activities of daily living.
10 years ago I saw my Dad declining a lot and I felt so powerless to help him. That's when I started doing the Modesto Walk to END Alzheimer's. I remember at first I told my Mom it was my "silent" way of fighting for my Dad. But then I decided it wasn't such a silent way to fight. It was actually a powerful way and the only way I knew to fight this horrible disease.
Fighting ALZ started out as a fight for my Dad, But then every day at work I was seeing patients that had a grandma or a grandpa, a sister or a brother, a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, an uncle or an aunt or a neighbor that has been affected by Alzheimer's. I am shocked just how many people are directly affected by the disease or are Caregivers for someone that has Alzheimer’s.
I have continued every year with the help of my incredible friends, family and husband to create new ways to raise money. And every day I continue to have HOPE.
Even 6 years ago when I took my Mom to the doctor to be evaluated because I thought she had “caregiver burnout” only to hear them say to her "You have Alzheimer's". I still continued to have HOPE.
I watch my mom's struggle every day and it breaks my heart. The strongest woman I know. A trailblazer for Women and Equality. And at the same time a loving and devoted Wife and Mother . A bachelors degree and masters degree from Stanford. Her doctorate from BYU. Now struggling with imaginary bad guys and what, where, when and how to carry out her activities of daily living. My Mom's struggle has had even more of a rapid decline than my Dad's has. Three and a half years ago when I took her in for a re-evaluation because things were progressing so quickly, our suspicions were confirmed, my Mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) with features of Alzheimer's. I am pretty sure that day my heart broke in a million pieces.
Alzheimer's Dementia is the cruelest disease I have ever seen. It’s a horribly isolating disease among many things. Many people are afraid or don’t know how to react to or interact with people that have Alzheimer’s. Many friends that used to call and visit my parents no longer keep in touch at all. They just don’t know what to do or say so they slowly drift away. Truly heartbreaking. And that was BEFORE COVID.
I will say on a positive note that I have found that the caregivers that have taken care of my Parents while on this journey are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. They become family. They fill the holes that some of the other friends have left.
I will continue to fight in hopes of a cure. I hope to see the first survivor in my lifetime.
Please join me in this fight so that soon we will see a world without Alzheimer's !!!
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
I have raised