Local woman fights stigma after Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Health Check

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – In Kansas, there are more than 54,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

As of February, Pam Major from Lawrence is now one of those people.

“It was after we moved to Kansas, so it’s been about 18 months,” Major said. “We moved from Massachusetts, I had gotten a job at Stormont Vail Hospital. I noticed I was having trouble with my reports. It seemed so much harder for me to process things. I didn’t so much notice it initially as much as other people did. That led to the testing and the diagnosis.”

Major resigned from her job at Stormont Vail and is now trying to stay active, fight the disease, and also the stigma surrounding it.

“I feel insecure,” Major said. “I was never an insecure person before. Socially I am not sure what I am going to say or how people will respond to me. I am in the early stage of it, so it’s not as advanced as other things. But I know there is a preconceived notion of what Alzheimer’s looks like for people, and people do treat you differently.”

“Currently, people are nervous to talk about it, because there’s no prevention or cure. It is the number six cause of death in the top ten, and it’s the only one of those ten causes of death that has no prevention, no cure, and no way to slow it down,” said Juliette Bradley, with the Alzheimer’s Association: Heartland of America Chapter.

But today, Major is determined to make a difference.

“I want to be a part of the clinical trials, and be a part of the research,” Major said. “It may not be able to help me and my situation now, but it could help people behind me or even my family if it ends up being a genetically carried trait.”

“She is our poster woman because we want everyone to do what she’s doing,” Bradley said. “To be able to share your story and let other people know, you’re not alone, this is how we’re going to finally get rid of the stigma of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Major and her family have been actively involved in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in Topeka. The local fundraising walk is scheduled for this Saturday.

Pam’s team is “Team Topeka”

“I am excited to walk with my son, daughter in law, and my grandchildren alongside me,” Major said. “Just to be able to do that and also the friends I’ve made in our Alzheimer’s support group. Just to walk alongside them together as long as we can, and to see how many other people show up to support it.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Topeka is this upcoming Saturday at 9:00 A.M. To register, click here.

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