TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and 8 On Your Side is highlighting stories of people battling and living with the disease.
Today, you meet a man who has turned his diagnosis into a mission to educate others about the importance of early detection.
Bobby Marshall is a school teacher in Hillsborough County who, six years ago, was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“I would lose my speech sometimes,” he said of his symptoms. “I was a little bit shocked. A lot shocked I guess.”
A conversation with Bobby on a quiet morning in Tampa didn’t show too many signs of the disease, but he had definite symptoms years ago that led to testing.
“He couldn’t remember the words to the laundry room one day,” said Bobby’s wife Sandy. “He was like, ‘Oh, that place where you wash the clothes.'”
The couple of 36 years both made the decision to get tested. They knew the signs to look for after Sandy’s father suffered from Lewy body dementia.
Sandy’s test was negative. Bobby’s was not.
“That was the hardest moment of my life because I knew what that entailed, I knew what was to come,” Sandy said.
But knowledge is power and early diagnosis meant early treatment. Because Bobby was proactive, he’s been able to adjust his life and schedule to fighting the disease, by coming up with a plan, changing his diet, and connecting with his doctors often.
“I’m aware of it before it’s too late. All too often, Alzheimer’s patients find out when it’s really too late to do anything, you can just treat the symptoms,” Bobby said.
His diagnosis is progressing, so this is Bobby’s last year in the classroom, but his teaching continues.
“My biggest thing right now is trying to get get the word out there about early detection,” he said.
“That has given us so much more than it’s taken away,” said Sandy. “It’s given us the opportunity to look at every day as a new day.”
Bobby is already very involved in spreading the word. He’s traveled to Tallahassee to fight for funding for a cure and for the Brain Bus.
To learn more about the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, click here.
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