Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative CEO Comer offers an unvarnished account of her experience as her husband's caretaker after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
The author has testified before Congress, and she is a founding member of USAgainstAlzheimer's, a co-founder of Women Against Alzheimer's Network and a recipient of the 2005 Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award and the 2007 Proxmire Award. Comer, who spent more than 30 years in broadcast journalism, shares the painful reality of witnessing her husband’s decline over the past 20 years. Harvey Gralnick was chief of hematology and oncology at the National Institutes of Health, internationally recognized for his work on leukemia. When Comer and Gralnick married in 1978, both of their careers were on an upward trajectory. Twenty years later, at the age of 58, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. His decline was rapid, as he became increasingly forgetful and at times abusive. For several years before, it had become apparent to Comer and her husband’s colleagues that something was wrong, although he denied a problem and refused medical help. Comer chronicles her own confusion and frustration with his behavior. Finally, Gralnick was forced to resign his position, and it became impossible for Comer to maintain her own career while caring for him at home. The author explains why she gives a detailed chronicle of the painful reality of her situation as a caretaker: “I never wanted to embellish or soften the edges around the truth. It does not do justice to the cruelty of the disease.” Comer has become an advocate for the need for early diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer's, which is “pushing past cancer and HIV/AIDS as “the most critical public health problem of our times.”
A poignant love story with a powerful message.