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Pat Summit Steps Down But Doesn't Throw in the Towel to Alzheimer's Disease

Posted by Monica Heltemes on 4/21/2012
Eight months after being diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Tennessee women's basketball coach stepped down from her position this week. Her reputation as a great coach is well known. In fact, her 1,098 career wins are more than anyone - man or woman - has achieved. She has taught her players immeasurable lessons about the game of basketball. Now Pat is teaching us about the game of life. The lost thoughts and misplacing of items that Pat experienced was placed in the category of Early Onset Alzheimer's. What does Early Onset mean? - A diagnosis given to someone who is under the age of 65. It is actually more common that you might think. This is one of the lessons Pat has taught us: Alzheimer's happens to even the strongest of people, even at younger ages. What else does she teach us? The fact that she did not immediately step down as head coach of the Lady Vols after being diagnosed, but finished the season out, teaches us that this diagnosis does not mean the person with dementia stops living. They may live a bit differently and with more support from those around them, but they still LIVE. This may be harder and harder to see as a person with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia loses more and more skills, but it should not be forgotten. Pat may have had a few "penalties" come against her, but she has not "fouled" out of the game...and with help for her (and others in her situation), we will not let her.



Bruce Frandsen
Date: 4/22/2012 11:38:01 AM
Having a mother who lived with Alzheimer's Disease for over ten years, I very much like the point made that though living with a disease they are still alive. We often think that since memory is an issue that one does not think or feel. This is not true brains work, feelings felt and we must remember everyone needs support but must be allowed to live as well.
Monica Heltemes
Date: 5/1/2012 12:34:23 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and personal experience, Bruce.

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