Imagine hearing these words: "She has Alzheimer's."
Now imagine that "she" is vibrant, active, loving, healthy … and just 55.
Acclaimed CBS News reporter Barry Petersen, writes about hearing the unimaginable: what it meant, what it still means, what he did--and didn't do--and how this beautiful love story needs to be read by the thousands of families who have already heard that same devastating diagnosis… EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMER'S.
Jan's Story is a full, rich story of two people--and thousands like them--for whom "forever"suddenly and terrifyingly has an expiration date.
Barry Petersen is a long-time, award-winning TV journalist who has covered wars, the devastating Asian tsunami, the historic confrontation at Tiananmen Square, the unspeakable deaths in Rwanda, and so much more…but was not even slightly prepared for what happened to his darling wife, Jan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Multiple Emmy award winner Barry Petersen has covered wars, genocide, interviewed Jimmy Stewart (who answered the door to his Beverly Hills home himself), Anthony Hopkins and several Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal suspects. He covered the war in Bosnia, Tiananmen Square and Rwanda.
Barry watched Mikhail Gorbachev walk among the crowds in the streets of Vilnius, Lithuania, begging them to stay in the Soviet Union and reported on the Iraq war, living on adrenaline, cigarettes and cookies, while having a target painted on his back.
Barry earned one of his Emmys for reporting the Siege of Sarajevo for CBS Sunday Morning. He shared both Peabody and DuPont Awards for being a part of the CBS News Radio coverage of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989, and an Edward R. Murrow award for, of all things, sports writing for a story on baseball coming to Beijing.Prior to working in television, Barry was a reporter, copyeditor, photographer and sometimes columnist for several newspapers including the Milwaukee (WI) Journal, Chicago (IL) TODAY, Omaha (NE) World-Herald and the Miami (FL) Herald.
JAN’S STORY by Barry Petersen is a memoir about eternal love, overwhelming loss, and courage to persevere for one’s own survival. Petersen is a celebrated and award-winning newsman for CBS and this is his own personal story of losing the Jan he knew and loved, his wife, to early onset Alzheimer’s. It is a story that is being played out in millions of homes each day as it tells of slowly losing your spouse to this hideous disease as well as the fight to not also lose the caregiver and allow Alzheimer’s to claim two lives at once.
Jan and Barry met while Barry was working as a correspondent in Seattle and Jan was a news anchor. Their shared interest in broadcasting was the beginning of a beautiful romance that led to marriage and took them around the world with their jobs and their love. When Jan was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at age 55, they were devastated to say the least. When they looked back, they realized there were symptoms as early as age 40 that came and went. However, with the diagnosis came the decision of how to proceed and handle what was to come. Jan and Barry first began with Jan on medications that were to slow the disease down and at that point they were optimistic that it would still allow them a full life together into her golden years. However, the disease moved much faster than that.
In JAN’S STORY, Barry is very frank in his description of the progression of the disease and the reactions he had to it all. He took on the job of caregiver with no doubts that he would be the person who would care for his Jan for the rest of her life. However, as things deteriorated over time including emotional responses, changes in behavior and finally being physically harder to handle, Barry knew more had to be done. Once he could not safely care for his vivacious lovely Jan on his own, he hired caregivers to come into the home to help. At some point, however, that changed and Jan finally was going to be safer, and Barry better off as well, if she was placed in the appropriate assisted living facility that specializes in caring for Alzheimer’s patients. At that point, Jan no longer knew Barry. She remembered him as her love and talked about him to Barry to this day but with no recognition that the man across from her was her Barry. His regular visits to see her were harder all the time. Meanwhile, thankfully, Jan maintains her same spunky, outward going personality except that she has no idea who Barry is, or where she is. One of her friends she talks with is her reflection in the mirror.
With much counseling, Barry finally realized he was not going to allow this horrible disease to claim both their lives and he found another partner in the process. She is a widow and knows they will never marry while Jan is alive and that their relationship will also be a three way one with Jan an equal part of it. And that is OK by her. JAN’S STORY is poignant, honest, and should serve as an example to help others to understand the incredible impact on not only the patient but also the caregiver. I found the book to be a quick read but also one that was tough to read. However, with the predictions of Alzheimer’s claiming so many of us in the coming years, either as the victim or the caregiver, it was quite an important story, and a brave one that Barry Petersen tells in JAN’S STORY.
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