Alzheimer's: An American Tragedy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Alzheimer's: An American Tragedy

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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

Jon Braud was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago, when he was 40 years old.

Back in February, on WLOX News, we spoke with Jon and his wife Cindi, about their brave battle against this horrible disease.

It was our intent to follow the Ocean Springs couple through the years, and document how they would deal with a disease for which there is no cure and no promise of a cure.

Sadly, Jon passed away of brain cancer just a few weeks ago. He was 44 years old.

Since the day when doctor's told Jon he had Alzheimer's, Cindi has watched her husband slowly slip away.

"He was just larger than life," Cindi said. "His personality, his spirit, his stature, he was just larger than life."

The couple married in 2007, but in the few short years since then, Cindi had gone from girlfriend, to wife, to caregiver. It has not been an easy journey. 

"But, I would not change any of it," she said fighting back tears.

Late this summer, when doctor's told Jon he had brain cancer, they did not expect him to live more than six months. Within just a few weeks, he was gone. Since that day, Cindi has spent a lot of time thinking about the man she not only loved, but also admired for his strength and will.

"I just want to hold him, and I know that is not going to happen. But I know he taught me how to live life," Cindi said.

Jon and Cindi have always been very open and public about their fight against Alzheimer's. Their hope was that knowledge and awareness would make a difference.

The couple also knew that even if it was too late for John, what he was doing would help others.

Jon even participated in a case study in St. Louis, the only one of its type in the country, dealing with early-onset Alzheimer's.

Cindi says her hope is that people affected by this disease, especially the family of caregivers, be willing to talk and share their experiences.

"I hope other people understand, even though this is a horrible disease, it is okay to talk about it. And, it is okay to stand up and fight it. Don't accept this disease because it is not supposed to happen."

In death, Jon Braud did an extraordinary thing that speaks volumes about his character and the kind of man he was. Jon donated his brain to Alzheimer's research.  

It was something Jon and Cindi had talked about when he was diagnosed.

"I told him, baby, maybe you are the missing link that they have been looking for, to find all the answers to this disease. He said, if all the testing, prodding, MRI's and CAT scans, and all of that, he said if it will not help me, maybe it will help someone else," Cindi said.

Alzheimer's affects more than five million Americans. The number of early onset cases, like Jon's, is expected to triple by the year 2050.

As for his wife Cindi, she will always hold dear the memories of the man whom she knew not just as her husband but also her best friend.

"He never had a bad thing to say. He never complained," Cindi said. "He was just awesome. He was awesome!"

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