Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden plays Dr. Leanne Rorish on CBS’ “Code Black” and is one of the stars of the new "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie. She sits down with The Doctors to discuss her mother’s diagnosis and the Notes to Remember campaign.
“My mother has Alzheimer’s,” Marcia shares. Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease as well.
“It breaks your heart and heals your heart at the same time when you have someone in your family going through it,” says Marcia. To help others in her situation, she’s a spokesperson for the Notes to Remember campaign to encourage early testing for Alzheimer’s disease.
ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork notes that “The early signs can be very subtle.” Dr. Ordon points out that it’s easy to attribute symptoms to the aging process. He and his siblings first suspected something was wrong when his own mother stopped watching the news and doing crosswords.
Alzheimer’s disease is hard to diagnose – it’s not a simple blood test. “So much of it is the story and the symptoms being displayed, and the family members are the ones who can complete that story for the health-care provider,” says Dr. Stork. The person with the disease may well not realize it.
5.4 million people in America have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Early testing might be a scary prospect, but if offers big advantages. Once diagnosed, patients can take part in clinical trials and the search for new treatments, and they can prepare for the future.
As Marcia says, “When it comes to your health, knowledge is power.” She herself has shared plans with her children in case she develops Alzheimer’s in the future. “You can give yourself the gift of time, and the gift of solutions by early testing.”