I believe I have faced some of the same challenges that James “Rhio” O’Connor has. And by doing some the same things he did when he was diagnose with cancer is how my family and I got through our tragedy.
In the 11th grade my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 76 years old and I was only 16. It was hard for my family to deal with our love one having a brain deteriorating disease. But we worked through it together. My mother and I began researching Alzheimer’s to see exactly what the disease was. We contacted the Alzheimer’s association and had them send us information. We also started our own help group at our Mosque to help aware people, of where to get help if they knew a love one with Alzheimer’s. My older sister Siddeeqah at the time was attending Ohio State University and I remember her telling me that we all had to work hard to do our part to help. She told me that since our father was a community activist, religious leader and strong believer in education. That we had a duty to live out. And that duty was to not only hold steed fast and become strong black women but we must get an education. Education was a key to our success. And that if you set a goal and stick to it that over time you will achieve what you set out to do. At the time I didn’t understand but now I understand and see what my sister was trying to show me at such an young age.
Feb. 14th, 2009 at around 4:30a.m my father passed away from compilations of Alzheimer’s disease and kidney failure. He would have been 79 in 2 months. I was 18 and in my 2nd semester at Tri-C Community College. Its now a year later and I’m 19 years old. My mother and I continue to aware our friends and family about Alzheimer’s, and how it affected us. I am planning to transfer to Howard University in Washington D.C to continue my education next fall. And I’m proud to say that if it wasn’t for my parents I wouldn’t have the strength to more forward. So I’m thankful for people like my parents and Mr. O’Connor. They plant seeds to make difference in people lives.