A special blog post written by Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo in support of Little Voice’s 2017 Walk for Alzheimers.
I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be involved with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. I have accomplished a lot in my life thus far, but there is no joy or pride greater than my efforts in supporting and creating awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. – Amanda Bernardo
When I was eleven years old, my grandmother travelled from Italy to Canada for the very first time. It was at the tender age of eleven that I also learned about Alzheimer’s disease for the very first time.
My grandmother, Teresina Bernardo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and at the age of sixty-six. A few years later, she came to Canada for the very first time. At this early stage in the disease, the signs were evident but not alarming. I remember her often repeating the same questions over and over again but I was still too young to understand the full impacts of the disease. It wasn’t until our own trips back to Italy that I began to see how much this disease could deteriorate someone.
A lot of children grow up fearing spiders or heights, but from a young age I feared what could one day be my own inevitable fate.
As the years passed, I slowly lost my grandmother. The disease began as a form of forgetfulness but evolved into something no words can describe. My grandmother is now eighty-eight years old and has been “living” with this disease for over 20 years. Now, in the late stages of this disease, she is no longer able to communicate or look after herself. Living oceans apart from one another, Alzheimer’s disease ultimately stripped me from a relationship with my grandmother.
I’ve known Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time and truthfully, for many years, I wasn’t able to talk about my experiences, or my fears, without tears falling from my face. Even today, I still struggle to share my story but I realized a long time ago that without talking about this disease, without fundraising behind it, without supporting the men and women who volunteer day in and day out to make a difference, nothing would change.
I only wish I was able to share this with my grandmother but I know deep down inside she is proud of me and all that I have accomplished in her name.
I truly appreciate the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County’s recognition of my efforts; I will forever be a part of this lifelong fight for a cure and will continue to support organizations like this that do wonders to support the families affected by this disease.
Being a part of this movement and community is something I will truly cherish forever.
I hope you will join us on Saturday, May 13, 2017 as we walk for all those in our community, our country and the world who continue to battle with Alzheimer’s disease, for the families who become full-time caregivers, and to the Alzheimer Society who continues to offer programs and services that help to make a difference in the lives of all those affected by this disease.
Together, we can make a difference.
Sign-up or donate today.