, , ,

Dear Mr. Wolgamott,

My name is Ann Napoletan and I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. I’m a passionate advocate in the fight to end this horrific disease and I found your recent reference to Still Alice as a “depressing ‘disease of the week’ movie” disturbing, disrespectful, and beyond insensitive.

The journey through Alzheimer’s with my mother changed my life forever, and I hope and pray you are never faced with watching a loved one slip away, over the course of years, in such a heartbreaking way.

My mother retired from a successful career at age 61 and began to show signs of cognitive decline shortly thereafter. She declined rapidly. Before my eyes, she transformed from a vibrant, independent woman – my rock – overflowing with life – to a terrified child who could not speak and needed around the clock care.

I have witnessed things no daughter should ever have to see; and she experienced things that no human being should ever have to suffer through.

I was robbed of too many years with this woman I loved so much; I was in my late 30’s when she became ill. She was robbed of the beautiful retirement she worked so hard for and dreamed of.

Take a look at this photo taken shortly after my mother retired, then compare it to the one accompanying this article. Aside from Alzheimer’s, she had no medical problems. THAT, my dear misinformed friend, is how someone DIES at the hand of the “disease of the week.”

In the space of four little words, you managed to blatantly disparage the suffering of over 5 million Americans living with this disease as though what they and their loved ones are living through is little more than a case of the chicken pox.

Shame on you for using the phrase, and shame on the Lincoln Journal Star for publishing these words.

Ann Napoletan