By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - When Cecile Bedard would forget how to turn on her TV or miss a payment on her bills, her family attributed the temporary memory loss to old age.
"She would say, 'At least all I have is a problem remembering things,'" Ms. Bedard's granddaughter, Jeanne Terry, recalled. "It hadn't occurred to us that the notes she had lying around her house for directions on how to operate her TV, VCR and remote control were some early signs."
Due to her tendency to look on the bright side of things, Ms. Bedard would compare her memory loss to what she thought were more serious diseases, such as cancer.
"Little did she, and we, know that Alzheimer's was just like a cancer, killing her slowly," Mrs. Terry said.
Things worsened, as Ms. Bedard would lose her way driving to places she had been to many times before.
"One night, we got a call from a man who found her lost across town," Mrs. Terry said. "That's when we knew something was definitely awry. We got her checked out, and that's when we got the news, but we could not have imagined the devastation it was about to cause."
A little more than two years ago, Ms. Bedard lost her battle with Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia that causes a loss of brain function and impairs one's memory, thought processes and behavior.
Ms. Bedard was a mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend to all who knew her.
For the second year in a row, Mrs. Terry and her husband, Steven, have created a team to participate in the local Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's in an effort to raise awareness and find a cure for the disease. The Terrys' team name is "Get Lost Alzheimer's."
"The impact Alzheimer's has on its victims and caregivers is alarming," Mrs. Terry said. "Alzheimer's isn't a little forgetfulness. It's a death sentence."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer's disease was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States in 2010. It is predicted that by 2050, one in 85 people throughout the world will be affected by the disease.
Though there currently is no cure for the disease, money raised through the Walk to End Alzheimer's will fund critical research, which looks into brain imaging and preventative measures.
The Walk to End Alzheimer's on the Space Coast will begin at the Wickham Park Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. It is free to walk, though donations are encouraged.
For more information, visit www.alz.org/walk.