Friday, August 17, 2012

"I'd rather have Alzheimer's than cancer" Really?

A couple of my friends were over the other day and because we are morbid we were talking about ways to die.  And one of them said, "I'd rather have Alzheimer's than cancer.  At least I wouldn't know I had it."
And that makes me crazy. People say that all the time.  There's that old joke, "I might have Alzheimer's but at least I don't have Alzheimer's." It's not true.  My dad KNEW.  He didn't know the word "Alzheimer's" (he seemed to understand it as if it was a brain tumor--he'd say "this thing in my head, it's killing me") but he knew he wasn't right anymore.  After he died my mom found a note he'd written, a heartbreaking list titled "things I can't do anymore."  Maybe at the very end, when he was burning up from MRSA or VRSA (whichever one he had) and pretty much brain dead, he didn't know, but then again, he didn't know anything at that point.
I argued with my friend for 2 reasons.  One is that, unless you have a brain tumor, you're pretty much YOU until the end with cancer.  You're in terrible physical pain, true, but people can talk to you and you know who they are and everyone can say a proper goodbye.  Not the long drawn out goodbye that's never officially said with dementia.  I have no idea where along the line my dad forgot who I was, but I know it happened.  I became a person who visited him and helped him out, someone he liked, but he had no connection to me.  My mom was the awful bitch who stole his money and kept him prisoner and drove him to places so "they" could torture him.  As opposed to my grandpa, who died of cancer 25 years ago this summer, who knew everyone and everything up to right before he passed on.
Reason two is a huge one: you can get better from cancer.  I know more than one person who is walking around today who had cancer in the past.  My high school friend, when she was finally listened to and diagnosed, was stage 4 ovarian cancer.  They put her in hospice to die.  She gave away her cats, her car, everything she owned.  16 weeks later, the doctors said, "You aren't going to die after all.  Go home." Bewildered, she said, "I have no home anymore, I gave away everything, you told me I was gonna die."  And she had to go live with her parents again.  That was 10 years ago and she's still walking around and is just fine.  There are no Alzheimer's survivors, there are no dementia survivors.  It's an absolute 100% death sentence.  You are more likely to get eaten by a great white and win Powerball on the same day than you are going to recover from Alzheimer's and be 100% fine.


Anonymous said...

Nicely said..

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. It's funny I am just seeing this post. My sisters and I were talking about this a few wks ago, I was totally stressed out on my dad's situation (He was officially diagnosed a year ago after a few years of noticeable dementia issues)
I told my sister, sometimes, I wish dad would get cancer one that would take him away before he lost those lucid moments, before he forgets forever who his children and wife are. He is already struggling horribly remembering grandchildren.

From what I know & have seen today, I want to have something firmly in place if I am diagnosed someday, I don't want it to go too far, I would rather someone took me down to an alley in a horrible part of town and left me there..(over exaggeration, but even that might be a less heart wrenching & definitely a quicker way to go).

I don't want to lose my dad, but it breaks my heart to see him go from the rock of the family to a child again in so many ways.

The disease is torturous, and tormenting to all involved. Alzheimer's offers no honor or dignity for it's victims.

I believe wholeheartedly as well that they are very much aware there is something wrong.

These clinical trials they offer for Alzheimer's victims, should be available and open to all victims. I don't know what they are trying to protect or preserve, we need to find something and fast.

Thanks for your post!

Amanda said...


If I were given a choice, I would choose cancer any day over Alzheimer's. Not that cancer isn't terrible but at least I'd stay me.

My grandmother was always very stylish and well-groomed but as her disease progressed (and the rest of the family remained entrenched in denial), she started dressing like a hobo and smelling sour. It might sound petty but I know my grandmother would have been mortified, that she wasn't herself when she would fight with me when I tried to wash her hair or help her change her shirt.

I don't think anyone would choose Alzheimer's if they've witnessed it firsthand.

(You know what really makes me stabby? That photo going around on Pinterest and Facebook of the old man's face with the caption "Hey, I just met you and this is crazy... I have Alzheimer's. Hey, I just met you." Ugh, I'm getting a blood pressure spike just thinking about it again.)