RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thousands will gather Saturday morning to raise money for a cure at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
The program will also aid programs that support Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, like Rick and Robin Gouckenour of the Richmond area.
“There were some problems Rick was having before the diagnosis, memory getting confused, driving not so great anymore,” Robin Gouckenour said of her husband’s cancer diagnosis.
It felt like the ultimate insult to injury. With a perfect match all lined up, Rick Gouckenour was preparing for a life-saving bone marrow transplant to treat his cancer when he and his wife learned that he had early onset Alzheimer’s.
That diagnosis meant his best chance at beating cancer was off the table.
“Some of the medications that you go home with to help build up your immune system cause cognitive problems,” Robin said. “Rick couldn’t handle that. The doctors at MCV strongly recommended that we not do it.”
Rick is now getting monthly chemo treatment instead to fight the cancer.
“He’s happy, he’s content,” Robin said. “He feels like he has a good quality of life, working with the dementia and learning to live with that.”
Robin reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association for help as a caregiver to learn about her new role in this journey and found lots of support with others are on the same path.
“The support from those folks is unconditional,” she said. “Not anything you say, not anything you express, is wrong.”
That support helped her understand how to be her husband’s support system.
“My husband is still Rick,” she added. “He’s Rick, he’s the same person, I don’t want him to be defined by Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
She also started her own team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She wanted to show her support for the organization and to help find a cure.
“It is so important to get that funding for that research to figure out what is causing this,” Robin added. “Because they don’t know.”
It’s not too late to join the Walk to End Alzheimer’s: It’s Saturday morning at Markel Plaza at Innsbrook.
You can learn more here.