It's been a week since I heard the horrible news about Pat Summitt's early-onset Alzheimer's diagnosis. It has taken me this whole week to finally write a blog post about it. I was so shocked by the news that it's taken me a while to get my emotions under control.
Let me start off by saying that I'm not a Tennessee fan. I am just a regular sports fan who has always admired Pat Summitt. I'm also a granddaughter who saw first hand what a debilitating disease Alzheimer's is.
My first thought upon hearing about the diagnosis was, "Well, there goes everything I've thought about exercising both your mind and body." Here is Pat Summitt, a former basketball player and amazing basketball mind. She's clearly been exercising her mind by coaching the Lady Vols for the past 37 years. She practically starting women's competitive basketball. She is a basketball genius. You have to exercise your mind to use your genius! I've never been to a practice, but I'm sure that she exercises her body in those practices too. I highly doubt that she's just been sitting on the sidelines during practice for 37 years.
These thoughts really shook me, and I started questioning the things I've read through the studies. It makes me think about how my Grandpa would work a crossword puzzle everyday, but yet he was still inflicted with Alzheimer's. But I have to remind myself, there is no true prevention. There are only ways to HOPEFULLY delay the onset. This gives me hope. Maybe Pat Summitt would have been been diagnosed in her 40s, instead of at 59. Maybe Grandpa would have been inflicted earlier, and I wouldn't have gotten to know him as well growing up. All I know is that I will continue maintaining my brain and exercising my body, because every day that I'm Alzheimer's free is an amazing day. I encourage everyone to do the same!
Back to Pat Summitt: The more I've thought about this, the less shocked and more saddened I've become. I'm saddened because she has accomplished amazing things. She has over 1000 victories! She's helped her team win 8 national championships and play in 18 final fours. She has 2 Division 1 basketball courts named after her. She's in the Basketball Hall of Fame. She won an Olympic silver medal as a player and an Olympic gold as a coach. She helped mold women's basketball into what it is today. I'm saddened because she's accomplished amazing things, but in the end she won't remember any of them.
She (and everyone living with Alzheimer's) is one of the many reasons that I dedicate so much of my time to the Alzheimer's Association. We have to end Alzheimer's.