Myra’s Jean Journey: Raising Awareness About Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
As Democracy Clothing continues our fall campaign to support women's brain research, in partnership with The Judy Fund, we’re honored to introduce you to Myra Garcia, an inspiring advocate, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 62. In this Jean Journey feature, Myra opens up about the impact of her diagnosis, her unwavering dedication to Alzheimer's advocacy, and the ways she continues to live life to the fullest, despite the challenges she faces.
Where do you call home?
Tell us some things about you
I’m the daughter of Cuban immigrants, born in New Jersey. I was a music major in college, but I also studied Spanish, Italian, French and German, while learning to sing in four additional languages. Following graduation, I worked as a classical soprano and performed in opera, oratorio, and music theater. After the birth of my second child, I began a new career as a fundraiser for local universities.
At Democracy Clothing, we’re committed to supporting change-making women, especially those who work courageously to overcome challenges. What change do you seek and what challenges have you faced along the way?
I was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2020 at age 62. My diagnosis forced me into an early retirement from a job I loved, but it also provided me with new opportunities. I volunteer at a senior memory care center, sing in three choirs and remain physically and socially active by practicing yoga, biking, golfing and taking a French class with friends. I also enrolled in a clinical trial that is evaluating the safety and efficacy of a new Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, for individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. I’m hopeful it may slow the progression of my disease.
What words of wisdom do you have for other women?
When I was working in colleges and universities, I always took the bull by the horn. I didn’t wait for the leader to give me an assignment…I gave them my suggestions of what we could or should do for the organization.
Overall, I say Be strong, Be honest with yourself and Be a changemaker. A lot of women don’t think of themselves that way.
Democracy's core values are to embrace who you are, enhance what you got, elevate your confidence, and evolve your personal style. How have you embraced who you are at this stage of your life and with the challenges you face?
Find and know your passion, and from your passion you will gain insight into being comfortable within your own body and soul. I will not allow this disease to hold me back. I will not hide. I plan to continue traveling and seeing the world.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of fighting this disease and not being afraid. Because my mother’s two sisters had Alzheimer’s, and I saw what it did to them, I had a hunch that I would follow in their paths. Despite that, it took a very long time for me to get my diagnosis. I think, because I can drive, speak, sing, cook, do house work, and volunteer, my doctors did not want to believe I had Alzheimer’s.
I’m also proud of being the mother of two amazing, grown-up sons who support me. I got my diagnosis during the beginning of COVID and wanted to tell both my sons about my diagnosis at the same time. So, I invited them to a Zoom call under the pretense of staying connected and that moment became the beginning of our weekly family call!
Where do you hope your jean journey will take you next?
My husband and I traveled recently to Ireland where I sang with my choir. But, I still have a bucket list that includes more international travel and a visit to every major league ballpark! I also want to continue sharing my story, advocating for a cure, and helping people know that this isn’t just an “older person’s disease.” It’s important to help people realize that the disease impacts some communities disproportionately. Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than whites but they are only 18% more likely to be diagnosed.
In sharing my story, I hope I will encourage others to advocate for themselves in seeking and receiving an accurate diagnosis. I also intend to use my bilingual skills to help increase disease awareness and the availability of care and support resources in Hispanic communities. I want to do all I can to advance the awareness of this dreadful disease.
Join Us in Supporting The Judy Fund
The Judy Fund is the largest and fastest-growing family fund at the Alzheimer’s Association®, leading the way in Alzheimer’s research for women like Myra.
A woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 45 is approximately 1 in 5 – twice what it is for men. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 6 million Americans living with the disease today are women. The disease has a disproportionate impact on women, but we do not yet understand why. We must change this.
Here’s how you can get make a difference:
- SHOP - Every purchase you make at our website throughout the month of November 2023 will result in $1 donated to The Judy Fund.
- LEARN - Visit The Judy Fund Website to understand more about the impact of Alzheimer’s on women, the latest research, and all the Fund is doing to help end Alzheimer’s.
- CONTRIBUTE - You can join Team Democracy, our official Walk to End Alzheimer’s Page, where you can sign up to raise money or make a personal donation (no walking required!)
- WIN - When you raise funds or donate on our Team Democracy page, through Giving Tuesday, November 28th, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a $500 site credit along with a personal styling session via Zoom with a Democracy Clothing stylist.
Together, with the entire Democracy community, we can support The Judy Fund and be a vital part of this powerful movement to #EndAlz and its devastating impact on women. #DemocracyInAction
Read more about our partnership with The Judy Fund in this recent post:
Two Founders, One Mission: Empowering Women to #EndAlz