I am 21 years old and in my second year of a European studies degree at the University of Manchester. When we discussed the idea of raising money for the Alzheimer charities I was instantly exited about the project. The main reason for my involvement in this project came from the recent news about my uncle Pierre being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When my father told me that my uncle had Alzheimer’s last summer, I saw how sad he was and it pushed me to do something about it. The idea that my uncle has an illness was a completely inconceivable idea for me since he was very fit and healthy. He is a mean cyclist! I thought Alzheimer’s only affected the very elderly and Pierre was only just coming up to retirement age. It also seemed terribly unjust that having dedicated his life to helping people as a doctor he should now have to cope with this disease. My first reaction was anger, mainly because I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s.
In my family, Alzheimer’s is quite a touchy subject; no one really talks about it. At first I thought it was because they preferred to keep to themselves and in a way forget about it. But I soon realized that it was a touchy subject for the soul reason that everyone was trying to process and deal with the news in his or her own way. The day that my father told me about his brother’s illness was the first day I saw a sad expression on his face. It is a very hard truth to face. I know that if one of my brothers had any illness that would diminish them in any way, my world would turn upside down.
Watching someone you love struggle to remember and become progressively dependant is probably the hardest thing to endure. My admiration for my Aunt, who not only copes on a day to day basis with the complications Pierre’s illness brings, but also continues to work as a doctor knows no bounds. The hardest thing to do in regard to Alzheimer’s is to accept the illness. The dramatic side of it is that we don’t talk about it and by doing so the sick feel excluded. We need to de dramatize the dramatic as my father says. Research on Alzheimer’s is in progress, but more funding is needed if we are to find a cure. By raising money we are trying to prove the Tesco slogan that ‘every little helps’.
So, I will be riding my bike for Pierre and for Florence and every other person who is dealing with Alzheimer’s. I will be riding my bike to show that I care and I hope that everyone else who feels the same way will ride alongside, or donate tons of cash, or both!