Spark of Hope #129 – Surviving Alzheimer’s, Making Miracles

Spark of Hope #129 – Until now, the words surviving Alzheimer’s could be said only about caregivers; their experience and wisdom; their ways of getting through it. No one diagnosed has ever survived Alzheimer’s. But what if the tables turned? As our visiting artist packed up, we asked about her next gig. Mara Stephenson had traveled the world USO Tour, and now here she was inside our little neighborhood memory cafe. “I’m headed to Nashville, to the Grand Ole Opry”, Mara said with a smile. Her words threw me a memory beeline, right to center stage. I blurted out, “I’m right where I sat a few years back, awaiting Martina McBride’s performance of I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” 

Campus Cafe at Northwest FL State College
Campus Cafe at Northwest FL State College

Mara sat down again. The tables turned from music to cancer as she shared her survivor story … and how music and singing and performing had restored her hope and changed her life. We all cheered her survivorship. I thought out loud again, “I hope one day we’ll have survivors here too. Loved ones among us surviving Alzheimer’s.” Bittersweetly, we circled up for our group photo and hugs; then departed with the hope of miracles tucked in our hearts.

Mere days later, my eyes filled with tears in seeing headline news. “Banner Health doctors behind a new clinical trial are excited about the possibility of helping millions of Alzheimer’s patients.” HOPE of surviving, patients included. It is optimistic. It is hopeful. Imagine stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks. Making miracles, it is possible. Never ever give up hope.

Hope is like a spark; if the conditions are right, it can spread like wildfire. Hope feeds the soul, ignites passion, and inspires others. Tucked inside each of us is a child-like spark that says: never forget to dream, play, and imagine. HOPE is the extraordinary spark that says Huge Outcomes are Possible Everyday! 

4 thoughts on “Spark of Hope #129 – Surviving Alzheimer’s, Making Miracles”

  1. On the other hand, nobody survives life either. We all die of something. I understand people’s desire to have a “cure” for Alzheimer disease. However, ultimately there is no cure for life. It always ends in death. At least so far 🙂

    1. Yes, Susan, the years between the dash are all we’ve got. We saw the tables turn on (some) cancer; it’s time to see it happen with Alzheimer’s. To re-frame fatal and life-robbing as chronic and treatable would be the game changer of our lifetime.

  2. I’ve survived cancer since 1999 but now I’m caregiving for my husband of 49 years who was diagnosed with vascular dementia and recently had a stroke. I hope there will be treatments that can halt the disease. Dementia is tricky but when I started treatment for cancer there were few options. Today there are many survivors due to treatments. Hope anything will be developed soon.

    1. Caroll, my heart goes out to you in this undeniably tough journey. My mother endured the battle with Alzheimer’s for 14 years. As you said, there were/are no treatment options. Still, we found “medicine” in the magnitude of learning, adopting of comfort measures (especially music as therapy), venturing out to places where mom was compassionately understood (behaviors are challenging as dementia progress, which I’m sure you know), and in being open about the challenges. Dementia is “tricky” … I often referred to it as the “eraser” of life as we’ve known it. Your journey through and beyond cancer is the hope of the future of dementia! One day, I do pray. May your good news of survivorship keep you afloat as you love your husband through it all. Thanks for reading and writing, and please keep in touch.

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