“It was a devastating diagnosis that brought me here, but people and a cause that keeps me here.”
While Nancy Chontos first learned her mother had Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, she recalls signs and incidents that pointed to a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“I was devastated [after learning of my mother’s diagnosis]. My daddy died of cancer when I was six years old, so my mom was my mother and father while growing up. For her? She wasn’t one to show her emotions, but for this, she cried,” said Chontos. “She said she was never the prettiest girl in the room, but she always prided herself on her mind, her ‘smarts’. To lose that, again, devastating.”
As soon as Nancy’s mother was diagnosed, she began to do research, learning everything she could about the disease. And that’s when she came across the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization that would change her life for the better.
“[The Alzheimer’s Association has] given me an ‘acceptable’ way to reach out to friends and neighbors to ask for help and support, and to donate to such a special cause,” Chontos said. “I did the Walk in Orange County, California when we lived there, and then here in Reno after we moved. I find creative ways to reach out.”
Each year the Alzheimer’s Association hosts a fundraiser where the community comes together and walks for a cure. Chontos says her favorite part of the event is seeing the flowers, each color representing a connection to the cause.
“I can’t wait until we have our first person holding a white flower, [meaning they are a survivor]. Everyone knows somebody affected by Alzheimer’s,” says Chontos. “Come out, get some fresh air, exercise, and support an organization that gives a full 77 percent of all funds raised to care, support, research, awareness and advocacy for Alzheimer’s. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s?”
Nancy Chonots is just one of 16.1 million Americans who provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. While this journey hasn’t always been easy, she says the support of the Alzheimer’s Association helps her persevere. “I’m just so happy and proud to be associated with this group. It was a devastating diagnosis that brought me here, but people and a cause that keeps me here.”
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