Dear Researchers: A message from Mandy
Three years ago, my mother was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at the young age of 56. My father made the brave decision to retire from his job early in order to be home and be her full-time caregiver. In the last three years, my mom has been robbed of her memories, her dignity, and her ability to care for herself. She no longer recognizes me or knows who I am; she isn’t even aware that she has two daughters and a husband. I have witnessed many changes in her personality as well. While she was once a loving, brave, creative and enthusiastic mother, the disease turned her into a fearful, anxious, helpless, angry person. Because of the progression of the disease, I have had to mourn the loss of my mom many times while she is still “alive”–the day she was diagnosed, when she no longer recognized her family members, when she moved into an assisted living facility, and when she was unable to attend my wedding.
Each time I hear of a new discovery about Alzheimer’s Disease, whether it is about the cause of it or a cure for it, I gain a little more hope that future generations may someday live in a world without this ugly disease. With all of the advancements researchers have made in terms of diseases like cancer, I know it is possible that we are not that far away from finding ways to significantly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, preventative measures, or even a cure. While I know I will never get my mother back, I find comfort in the fact that a cure would prevent others from experiencing the heartbreak of losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s.
I want to thank every researcher who has dedicated their time, energy, and knowledge to this cause. You give me hope and confidence that we are actively moving toward putting an end to Alzheimer’s. Every effort you make brings us one big step closer to eradicating this terrible disease, and for that, I am truly grateful.