HANCOCK COUNTY — Darlene Bradley always knew Alzheimer’s could be in her future.
The disease, which can be hereditary, changed her father and is now changing her.
Alzheimer’s impacts the mind and destroys memories and other important mental factors.
Bradley has been battling the diagnosis for almost five years now and hopes she can help find a cure for her children, grandchildren, and future descendants.
“My loved ones can tell that I am slowly declining,” Bradley said.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 56.
“I always had such a good memory and some things from years ago I can remember very well. Last week, (and) yesterday I might have problems with,” Bradley said.
The disease, while physically invisible, takes a toll.
“Oh, it's a hideous disease and you know I already knew how horrible that path is and how it ends,” Bradley said.
Bradley's dad battled Alzheimer's for years.
“With my daddy, I watched him decline so so horribly,” Bradley said. "Other than snakes, there was nothing my daddy was afraid of, and by the time he was ready to pass, he was afraid of everything.”
When Bradley was diagnosed, she knew she wanted to do whatever she could to stay ahead of the disease for as long as she could. That’s why she’s taking part in a trial for a first-of-its-kind drug called Aduhelm.
“We know the likelihood of this working is better earlier in that disease diagnosis, so it really does communicate to us the importance of early detection,” said Natalie Sutton, the executive director for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter.
Sutton says the new drug gives her hope for the future.
“We know this treatment isn’t a cure (and) can’t help everyone who needs (it), but we do think it ushers in a new class of treatments that are going to help so many people and that give us hope,” Sutton said.
Bradley said regardless of whether it works, she’s thankful she can help to find a cure for a disease she knows she’s passed on to her family.
“Of course, I've passed that propensity on to my children because if you get diagnosed at 56 there's no doubt that it's hereditary,” Bradley said. "So most think that my kids won't see a cure but that there's a good chance that my grandchildren will.”
Bradley said she’s not afraid to die because of her Christian faith. However, she is scared by the idea of her family watching her suffer.
Aduhelm is only available right now to those taking part in the trial and is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
If you or a family member needs assistance, the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana wants to help. It can be reached via its 24/7 hotline at 1-800-272-3900. It also provides resources online.