A young mum with a rare genetic mutation is rushing to make memories with her son after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s aged just 27.
Jayde Greene, 27, is hoping to find a cure for the degenerative disease after she discovered she may not live to see her son finish secondary school.
The mum-of-one discovered this month that she has the same faulty gene which led to her father Michael’s premature death from the disease aged just 52.
Jayde, from Leytonstone, east London, has not yet developed symptoms, but is likely to between the ages of 42 and 45, when one-year-old son Freddie will be just 16.
Her father Michael was diagnosed with dementia when she was a teenager and eventually lost his battle with the disease seven years ago.
Her uncle Brian died of the illness at 58 last November, and her other uncle David and aunt Caroline are also suffering from symptoms.
After pushing it to the back of her mind for a few years, Jayde finally plucked up the courage to get tested a few months ago, but was given the life-changing diagnosis on July 7.
Jade, who lives with partner Michael, 36, in Wanstead Flats, said: “My parents divorced when I was ten, and I stayed with my dad, but a year-and-a-half later he started showing symptoms.
“We were living with his family because he started not to be able to look after either of us – he started getting forgetful, slurring his speech, and he just sat in a daze for hours.
“They didn’t recognise his particular form of Alzheimer’s, but eventually they’ve discovered it was a very rare gene mutation which causes early onset.
“My dad passed away in a care home and his brother passed away a year or two later, and that’s when they looked into genetics – his other siblings are suffering too.
“I lost contact with that side of the family so any information they got wasn’t relayed to me, and when my uncle passed away last year, we started talking a bit more and I decided to go for tests.
“I went for blood tests and consultations and the results came back on July 7.
“As soon as I walked into the room, I knew it was bad news – there was another doctor in there and I could just feel the vibe that it was bad.
“The doctor started speaking and I just went numb, he spoke for a few minutes but I couldn’t tell you what he said.
“As soon as I thought about my son, that was it – I switched from dazed and scared to what am I going to do about it?
“I’ve been diagnosed, but the symptoms shouldn’t occur until I’m between 42 and 47 – I’ve been told I’ve only got 15 years left until I go down the same road as my dad.”
Jayde’s hereditary gene mutation only affects a handful of families in the UK and means her symptoms will start to show in around 15 years and could eventually affect her son.
After her father’s illness left her so devastated she could not bear to see him, she feared what her condition might mean for the rest of her family.
Jayde’s diagnosis meant she had to give up her nursery job just weeks after returning from maternity leave.
But now she wants to spend all her time helping to find a cure, and will start a four-year clinical trial on the NHS in November.
She added: “I couldn’t believe I’d brought this child into the world only for him to maybe end up getting it too.
“I don’t want him to go through what I had to deal with my dad and my uncle.
“I’m waiting for confirmation for my NHS trial to go ahead, they were just looking for people who haven’t got symptoms but have the mutated gene.
“It involves a lumbar puncture, stem cell therapy and PET scans, combined with medication, and I’m diving straight into that in November.
“They can’t say how successful it could be but they’re quite close to what they want to find – it’s to do with amniotic fluid, it starts causing the symptoms once it reaches the brain, almost like limescale in a kettle.
“They’re aiming to develop a pill which keeps those levels from touching the top, and hopefully put off the symptoms.
“I’ve got 15 years to make a difference.
“If I can’t do it to save me, I can try to do it for other people in the future.
“If we can find a way to stop the symptoms showing, I’d still be able to watch my son grow from a boy to a man.
“Words can’t describe how amazing that would be.”
Jayde has now started a JustGiving page to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society UK, and is also holding car boot sales to raise cash for Dementia UK.
Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for north east London David Morris said Jayde’s positive attitude is “inspiring”.
He added: “Discovering at 27 that your future involves a diagnosis of one of the country’s most feared conditions must be devastating.
“Dementia devastates lives, but every pound Jayde raises will help the society provide vital information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by the condition.”
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