I confidently claim to know a little about a lot of things. One thing that I know for certain is that memories don’t last a lifetime. They can if you believe that a lifetime ends at 65, which for one in nine Americans, it does. Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a progressively degenerative brain disease, you are no longer in control of your memory. Instead, as brain cells progress from damaged to destroyed, memories which once defined your identity consist of constant chaos and confusion.
Every 66 seconds, a person develops Alzheimer’s disease and begins the fight. Those 5.2 million Americans currently diagnosed with the disease do not have a cure. Once diagnosed, they are in the waiting period. They wait because they don’t have a choice. They wait until Alzheimer’s takes control of their memory, because waiting is no longer an option, time no longer a concept.
If we wait for a cure, by the year 2050, more than 16 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For those like myself who have experienced its effects, this prediction is not only alarming, but painful. I can’t watch more family members wither away into a state of irrevocable loss. We, as people, can no longer wait idly by for a cure when early-onset Alzheimer’s develops as young as 30, when two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women or when it is the only death among the top 10 diseases that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed down. Those numbers aren’t just statistics; they are a call to action.
Waiting, as you see, is no longer an option. It is not an option for Sigma Kappa, one of the nation’s leading private contributors to Alzheimer’s disease prevention, research and treatment options. I am proud to be a part of a sorority that, in 1989, stopped waiting for a cure and began donating more than $3 million in research grants. One million dollars of these grants are for the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative, which funds clinical research focused on women, as well as research led by women working toward advances in Alzheimer’s and dementia science. I am proud to be a part of an organization that not only funds Alzheimer’s disease research but empowers female scientists to make a change.
As women of Sigma Kappa, we do not wait for a cure – we walk for one. Annually, Sigma Kappa participates in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Although my chapter couldn’t attend the walk this year, on Nov. 5, 2016, we hosted our own walk so that we too could participate, spread awareness and raise money.
Women join Sigma Kappa for many reasons. Many women have been affected by Alzheimer’s and saw Sigma Kappa as lifetime commitment to make a difference. Several times a month we volunteer at Compass on the Bay, spending time and doing activities with adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. If you are interested in participating with the women of Sigma Kappa at our Cycle for a Cure event on Nov. 20, please email Caity Razzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.alz.org.
– Roni Mandelkern is a third-year psychology major and a member of Sigma Kappa
Photo courtesy Sigma Kappa at Northeastern University/Facebook