This story originally aired May 6, 2017
One of the hardest things a person might have to find peace with is the diagnosis of a life changing disease like Alzheimer’s. For sisters Tamara Cullen Evans and Laurie Cullen, their diagnoses for Alzheimer’s came much earlier than it does for most people.
Tamara and Laurie both saw their grandmother and mother's lives shorten significantly due to Alzheimer’s, and they wanted to find out earlier rather than later if they were going to have it.
If a parent has a presenilin gene, a gene that pretty much guarantees the person will develop Alzheimer’s, the offspring of that parent has a 50 percent chance of getting that gene too.
The sisters weren’t sure if their mother had the gene, but they wanted to get tested. A blood test eventually confirmed that they both had it, and that it’s more or less a certainty that their life will be shortened by Alzheimer’s.
Many of the tests and trials Tamara and Laurie are involved in can make them feel like human pin cushions. But while some of the early effects of the disease are already starting to show, both of them have made the decision to live their lives to the fullest before more intense symptoms develop.