BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in this country killing more people than breast and prostate cancers combined. Yet, efforts here at home are underway to find a cure to this disease once and for all.
For one Western New York man, Alzheimer’s is a big part of his past, and now his future too.
Dave Donlag from Kenmore said he was diagnosed with dementia two years ago. He said, “I sort of look at it, like, my life was a preparation for me now.”
At 8 years old Donlag saw his great grandmother go through Alzheimer’s. “I was the only one that she recognized, she didn’t recognize anyone else in the family,” he said.
His Great Aunt, Grandmother and Aunt also, all passed away from the disease. Now Donlag faces the same fate as many at the Walk to End Alzheimers in Delaware Park.
Donlag said, “When you first get diagnosed and you realize it could be anything from 18 months to 15 years, and you don’t know where you fall in that scale.”
Two years after his diagnosis with dementia, lucky for him, it’s progressing at a slow rate. And his wife Donna has been there from day one. They’ve been married for 37 years now.
Donna said, “He was cute!”
Dave said, “We were best friends for about six months, and I asked her to marry me, and we were married a month later.”
Donna knows this will affect her too. Alzheimer’s has a major impact on caregivers. But for many at the walk, it’s this community that keeps them going. Hundreds support this cause, because the disease touches so many.
Donna said, “They don’t want to know they have Alzheimer’s, but the sooner you know the more you can survive. You can live. That’s what David is doing, he’s living.”
Leaders with the walk to end Alzheimer’s say they will find a cure. But in the meantime, there are resources and support groups available for those fighting this.
Neil Boron, Chairman with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s said, “This is a deadly disease. But to know that someone is there to assist you, to help walk you through the process, and comfort and encourage you is amazing.”
For support and resources right here in Western New York you can visit the Alzheimer’s Association website.