Fear and Hope: Life After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Fear and Hope: Life After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
These four people have Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s what they want you to know.
By Samantha Costa Jan. 20, 2016, at 11:36 a.m.

It was a Friday. Myriam Marquez was driving home from her job as a public defender for the Skagit County Public Defender’s Office in Mt. Vernon, Washington, when she came to a four-way stop: “And all of the sudden, I didn’t know where I was, and I didn’t know whether to turn right, left or go straight,” she vividly remembers. Hysterical, she picked up her cellphone to dial her daughter and explain the predicament. She only lived a half mile away. Once she composed herself, she realized where she was. “But at that moment,” says Marquez, 68, of Seattle, “I knew I had Alzheimer’s disease.”


After a battery of tests, including MRIs, PET scans, blood work and cognitive evaluations, the doctors told Marquez her diagnosis was inconclusive. “But I knew I had it, and no one would believe me,” she says. Marquez’s father was one of 13 siblings, at least five of whom had symptoms related to Alzheimer’s when they died. Two of her own four siblings had already been diagnosed with the disease. The strong family history prompted a DNA test one year later, and at age 63, her suspicions of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease were confirmed.

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