Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fierce Urgency of Now

Yesterday, I watched the Kansas City Chiefs play the Steelers in a playoff game. Any year the Chiefs made the playoffs, we fans were hopeful that the Chiefs would make it to the Superbowl. We always hoped we wouldn’t be disappointed—again.

During commercial breaks, I watched other fans’ reactions online. About the time I realized the Chiefs were going to fall to the curse of their playoff games, a photo of a youthful Jim popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.

Jim was the sole reason that I became a Chief’s fan. Through winning seasons and losing seasons, he was steadfast in his loyalty. During the early years of our marriage, Monday night football was opposite the movie of the week. With one TV set, I never watched a single movie during football season.

Although, it seemed magical that Jim’s photo appeared on my phone just as I was thinking of him, I scrolled past other old family photos. Jim’s cousin Debbie had decided to make an online album of old family photos, and I assumed she had posted the photo. I downloaded the photo and added it to my own online album of Jim’s pictures.

“Can I steal this for the Fisher album?” she asked.

“I just stole it myself. That’s where I thought it was,” I replied.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that my nephew John had posted it.

Seeing Jim’s photo put a lot of perspective in my outlook, and reminded me of the real urgency of now. When he was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, my goal became to do anything possible to change the outcome.

The urgency to do something, rather than patiently wait for the inevitable, was part of my nature. I trolled the internet looking for anything to stave off a degenerative, fatal disease. I tried to get Jim enrolled in drug trials. He was turned down for one trial because he was too young and for another because he had lost the ability to communicate.

I began to go to the Alzheimer’s forum to advocate for more research dollars. I saw the urgency to find a cure in the eyes of caregivers, and my heart hurt for them. I felt their pain and knew the disappointment of hearing a doctor say, “Even if they find a cure, the disease is so far advanced that it’s too late for him.”   

As the years went by and the disease won, I continued my advocacy, as have many others who lost loved ones. We all share the same hopes and dreams—a cure for Alzheimer’s.

I recently read the “I Have a Dream” speech Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Although his speech was loaded with quotable sentences, one phrase caught and held my attention. King spoke of “the fierce urgency of now.”

Many of us won’t step out of our comfort zone to fight for our cause with the conviction of Martin Luther King, Jr. Most of us anonymously fight our fight. Some of the rich and famous meet the challenge as they or their loved ones discover Alzheimer’s when it strikes close to home.

Just this week, I learned that the former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs Marty Schottenheimer has Alzheimer’s. This too, helps me put the Chief’s loss into its proper perspective. Next season, the Chief’s have a new start and a chance to redeem themselves.

As far as Alzheimer’s, there are no second chances. With more people dying each day that passes without a cure, we have the “fierce urgency of now” to end Alzheimer’s.

Copyright © January 2017 by L.S. Fisher
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