Search for a Cure

I get sidetracked a lot when I’m cleaning the house, but sometimes that’s a good thing.  Like the other day, when something caught my eye as I was throwing away the “dog newspapers”– the ones we put on the kitchen floor for Luke when we’re going to be gone awhile.  Luckily, this particular issue of the Dallas Morning News was “unused” and I sat transfixed, reading a story about a suburban Dallas family with 3 children, beaming at me from the crumpled paper in matching black sweaters. 

Just a few years ago, Michelle, the mom, had been a typical “normal” mom, encouraging the kids to do their homework, volunteering in the classroom, cooking with her daughter, cheering her son at his hockey games…and then her behavior started to change. She stayed in her bedroom a lot, reading romance novels.  She’d say strange things.  At first, doctors thought it was some kind of depression but it was eventually discovered that she has frontotemporal dementia.  I’d never heard of it before.  Nicknamed “cancer of the soul”, it’s a fatal disease that slowly destroys brain functions such as social skills, language, empathy and compassion.  Adults with FTD regress to childlike emotions and behavior, ending up in their own world. The husband/dad in this family first suspected something was wrong when his daughter said to him one day, “I can’t remember the last time mom hugged me or kissed me or told me that she loved me,” and when he told his wife, she brushed it off and said, “I’ll get to it.”  Eventually she was roaming the neighborhood in her bathrobe and jeans, digging in trash.   The family now visits their mom/wife in an Alzheimer’s care center– she has a distant look in her eyes, doesn’t talk, and sometimes pretends she’s jumping rope.  The daughter, now 15, can’t handle the visits and wishes her mom would just hurry up and die.  The entire family is stuck in an awful waiting game.  While some FTD patients seem to have a genetic link for the disease, many others do not– Michelle falls into that “struck at random” category.  There is no cure, and FTD currently affects 250,000 people in America, usually between the ages of 40 and 60.  Michelle is 49. 

Talk about “hitting close to home”.  A suburban stay-at-home mom in her late 40’s with children, including a teen daughter.  Talk about being thankful for health! It also made me check out the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias (AFTD) website, to see what’s being done in research.  It looks like there are a few dedicated researchers out there who have made some strides in creating treatments that lessen the severity of symptoms, but it’s not exactly a disease that gets a lot of attention.

I wanted to do something to help.  As I navigated through the site’s “Donate” page, a logo caught my eye with the words, “Goodsearch. You search, we give.” Have you ever heard of Goodsearch? It’s a search engine, like Google, that you can use to search the web, and every time you search, the nonprofit of your choice earns a penny.  Seems small, but I probably do at least 10 web searches a day, and if everyone does the same, that could be a lot of money.  I went to the Goodsearch site (www.goodsearch.com)
and read more. The beneficiaries are numerous (over 84,000 nonprofits), and just about anything you can think of: ALS, SPCA, Special Olympics, schools, AFTD…   What a great idea, and it’s been around since 2005, featured on major network news programs like ABC and CNN.  You can search the web via the Goodsearch site, or install the Goodsearch toolbar on your computer for free. It’s powered by Yahoo, so if you’ve ever used Yahoo search, it’s basically the same thing.  They also offer “widgets”, and I plan to put one on my blog sidebar soon.

So, I wanted to share this information, since it’s one of those “why not?” kind of things that makes a lot of sense, does a lot of good, and doesn’t take a lot of effort. And if you think it’s as great as I do, pass it on.  Maybe the power of the Internet can eventually raise enough funds to wipe out these awful “surprise” diseases, or at least find a cure.

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