Book Chronicles Life with Alzheimer’s
By Ireti Adesanya
RICHMOND, Va. – Judith Fox shines a light on Alzheimer’s disease through her book “I Still Do,” a touching memoir of her husband, former Virginia Commonwealth University President Edmund Ackell.
Ackell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more than 11 years ago. Once a brilliant surgeon, he now cannot read or interpret images.
“These are some of the things my husband used to do: fly a plane, perform surgery, consult worldwide, head a university and medical centers, hit four holes-in-one, and play on the same basketball team as Bob Cousy,” Fox writes.
“These are some of the things my husband can’t do anymore: find his way to and from an unfamiliar bathroom, work the coffee maker, play tournament golf, or remember something I told him two minutes ago.”
Healing through Photography
To cope with this harrowing disease, Fox decided to tell her husband’s story through pictures.
“I photographed Ed to remember him, to celebrate him and to keep him close as he’s leaving,” said Fox, who visited VCU recently to discuss her book. “I caught Ed’s soul, pain and fragility.”
The rawness of Ackell and his steady progression out of reality is a sad sight. As one member of the audience -- VCU sophomore Travis Pottle, 19 -- pointed out, the pictures reflect the true nature of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Fox included pictures of Ackell when he was still ‘himself’, making faces and just being silly. As the pictures continued, you could see how Alzheimer’s was affecting him. He wasn’t smiling anymore, and you could see the confusion and sadness in his eyes,” Pottle said.
Raising Awareness about Alzheimer’s
Ackell served as president of VCU from 1978 to 1990. He was the university’s first president to have experience in the field of health care as well as in education and administration.
“I Still Do” has not only shined light on Dr. Ackell but also raised awareness about the disease.
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer purchased 2,000 copies of the book to motivate its researchers and scientists. The book has been listed as a must-read by such magazines as Elle and Riveria.
Alzheimer’s disease, a neurological malfunction, has no known cure. Fox urges people to learn about the debilitating illness in case it affects their loved ones.
Tags: Alzheimer's , Edmund Ackell , Virginia Commonwealth Uni
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