My mother had Alzheimer’s disease, and what it did to her was just terrible. Her mother had it too. A few years ago, my wife, a retired nurse, noticed that I was having short-term memory problems. When I got lost trying to find my way around a familiar hospital campus, we decided that I needed to be medically evaluated. That was in 2010, and I was diagnosed with an “early-stage” memory problem.
A year later, I found out that I carry the ApoE 4 gene, which means I have a genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. This gene was passed down to me from my mother’s side of the family. My doctor informed me that I had mild cognitive impairment, meaning that I was at increased risk for Alzheimer’s. This January, I learned that I had progressed to early-stage Alzheimer’s.
When I was diagnosed, I got very down. But I’m an extremely positive person, and I don’t take “no” for an answer! I said a prayer and asked for help, because I was tired of being negative. I turned things around in one day. I decided that I’ve got Alzheimer’s and it’s got a hell of a fight with me!
I started giving presentations about Alzheimer’s disease. With support from my local chapter, I speak at houses of worship, corporations, community organizations — anywhere that will have me. I do this to raise awareness, and in hopes that there will be a day when Alzheimer’s can be prevented, effectively treated and cured. My kids are in their 40s, and they may have the gene. I do this work for them, and for their kids. I do it for the future.
I will continue to use my voice to fight this disease as long as I can. I will never give up. And I’m hoping you will join me by signing the Alzheimer’s Association Petition for a strong National Alzheimer’s Plan. Right now, I am with hundreds of other advocates at the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. This week, we will deliver a message to our elected officials that Alzheimer’s can’t wait. You can make that message stronger by adding your name to the petition. To sign, click here.
The more that I’m involved, the more I find that fear is the greatest obstacle to defeating this disease. People don’t want to know how cruel Alzheimer’s is, or what’s coming down the pike if this country doesn’t get a fix on it soon. But together, we can raise awareness and work toward a future where our children and grandchildren don’t have to face this disease.
Today’s guest blog comes from Bill Frost, a member of the Alzheimer’s Association’s® national 2011 Early-Stage Advisory Group, a council that helps the Association raise awareness of the issues faced by people with Alzheimer’s, advocate for research and support programs and provide the best services possible to people with the disease. Diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s in January 2012, Bill is a retired telecommunications executive and consultant. He and his wife of 51 years, Nancy, live in Houston, Texas. They have three children and one granddaughter.