Republican? Democrat? It doesn't matter!
This post is not intended to single out any particular political affiliation or disparage anyone for voting for the candidate of their choice in our recent election. What this post intends to do is unite us all for a single cause: Alzheimer’s Research Funding and Caregiver Support. No matter your political beliefs, it is imperative we all band together to have our voices heard.
Recently, Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, released the results from a phase 3 (the final phase) study on a promising drug for treating dementia. Unfortunately, the trial failed and it was a devastating blow to us all. The scientists who have spent years and years working on this particular drug, the families desperately needing hope for loved ones and for all of us with this insidious disease in our families were saddened and disappointed. Yet, we have been here before. Drug companies are working hard to find a cure. Research centers around the world are searching for that magic missing link. Participants in studies are giving time and their own bodies to help. What are you doing?
For me personally, I am not a scientist. I scratch the surface with my ability to recall on demand elements on the periodic table or comprehend the medical terms related to parts of the body. It’s just not my forte’. I will not be in the lab bent over a microscope interpreting what is growing in the petri dish. I will not be forming a hypothesis and then formulating a conclusion after years of research.
What I can do and what I will continue to do is help those scientists get support. I will help them get funding so even their craziest ideas can be given a shot. I will help them get drugs that are looking promising fast-tracked. I will do whatever is needed so they can continue to do their jobs. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to show up to work day in and day out and meticulously pour over data and look for the one thing missing. To forge ideas only to have them snuffed out. To feel the weight of millions of people on your shoulders, praying you will help their Mom or Dad or spouse. I imagine it can be exciting and exhausting all in the same moment. As you must be aware, big changes are coming in our government. Strides that have been made in recent years are at risk of being halted or even reversed.
There is talk of cutting funding to the National Institutes of Health. There are rumors that medical research will fall to the wayside. We have worked tirelessly for years to get the funding we have for Alzheimer’s Research and the amount allocated is still lagging far behind the amounts earmarked for other ailments WITH cures and treatments.
Change will come only if we have a collective voice. You may think it doesn’t matter if you write or call your representative in Washington but I am here to tell you it does. A lot. I have seen first hand what a difference sharing your story can make. Our Representative in Congress, Representative Scott Rigell, listened to us, did some research and then supported increasing research funding. Before we met him, he really didn’t know much about the plight so many of us share. But he took the time and recognized the savings long-term if we find a treatment or a cure.
Being a caregiver is overwhelming. There is no denying that I am asking you to reach deep inside and find a way to do the unimaginable: add something else to your overflowing plate. Just share your story. Tell how important it is to you and your family to find a cure. You can write up a letter once and send out the same one. You don’t have to make it harder on yourself, just change who the letter is addressed to. Let your local newspaper know this is an issue you are paying attention to and that it is important. You will be surprised at how good it will feel to do something and at the same time make a difference. You will find others and will be able to support each other. You will share your story and others won’t feel so alone. You will educate those who have no personal experience with dementia. You will change the course of this disease and will save lives.
It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, a Democrat or have no political affiliation: Alzheimer’s isn’t choosy and doesn’t discriminate. We must look past our differences and come together cohesively to change the course of the culprit taking away our grandparents, our husbands, our wives, our friends, our parents and our neighbors. We must look past skin color, religion, and political affiliation just as the disease does. If it doesn’t discriminate, why should we?