In her own words:
“My journey actually began several years ago, 2012 to be exact. I don’t have a history of Alzheimer’s in my family so it wasn’t really on my radar. My first symptoms included difficulty learning and remembering events and conversations. At that time I was working at Intel corporation leading a new division of our inside sales organization. I remember sitting in the office and really struggling to comprehend a training seminar. I was taking notes and doing my best to understand what was being said but it wasn’t sticking. My brain wasn’t able to hold the data.
I continued to write things down, almost word for word so I could brief my staff regarding our technology updates. When I met with them a few days later I had to read from my notes versus speaking from memory which is something that would have been easy for me normally. Unfortunately at that point I didn’t know the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and I assumed I was just tired or getting old. Mind you, I was only 55.
A few months later as part of my routine physical my doctor recommended a comprehensive blood panel. Two years later in 2014 I was still struggling and repeating myself and relying more and more on my notes. It was then that I started the long and arduous path of getting a diagnosis. I was diagnosed with MCI and sent back to the neurologist.
By then things were getting very difficult at work so I took a medical leave of absence. That was a very hard decision, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Stress is not good for anyone, but it’s really not good if you have AD. And as I mentioned my job was extremely taxing and the pace and stress, along with all the travel was not conducive to someone in my condition.
So finally, on July 20th, 2016, two years after my initial doctor visits and four years after I learned of my genetic markers, my husband and my daughters joined me at UCSF in a room filled with doctors and research scientist from around the world. Together we finally learned the cause of my symptoms.
After my diagnosis I started searching online for help, and thank God I found the Alzheimer’s Association website. I was searching for a new purpose and so I filled out an application to become an Early Stage advisor and got connected to my local chapter. I was asked to join the Northern California BOD, and a year later was appointed to the National BOD.
My life changed and was filled with hope when I got connected with the Alzheimer’s Assoc. I found my purpose. I believe God only gives you what you can handle, and he knew I could handle this challenge. I lean on Him and trust Him and know that everything happens for a reason.
I had a strong purpose at Intel and I have an even stronger purpose now. I know the work I’m doing and the money I’m raising might not help me, and I know that there may not be a cure in my lifetime, but I will die trying and with a smile on my face because of all of you and your support to #EndAlz.
My doctor told me that the most important thing I could do was to ‘do what makes you happy’ and being here with you makes me very happy!
Being part of the cure by participating in clinical trials has also been a true gift, and definitely makes me happy. The staff at UCSF is fabulous and they are now part of our extended family.”
To follow Pam’s journey – Check out her blog: www.myjourneywithalzheimers.com
*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Pam. This year for my birthday, I am embarking on a weekly photo essay project highlighting 52 Phenomenal Women. This is week 40 of 52. Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!**