Two years later: KFOR checks in with young Oklahoma woman battling early onset Alzheimer’s


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – KFOR first visited Amanda Rushing in 2018, when Amanda, then 40, shared what it was like to be battling Alzheimer’s at such a young age.

Amanda majored in missions in college. Right after graduation, at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

Amanda inherited the gene that stole her aunt, uncle, and father decades too young – all were in their 40’s.  Amanda is now 42.

“Debra was 43, Darrell was 42, my dad was 47,” Amanda said.
Amanda’s mother Anna and step-father Rob Ellison are her caretakers. 
And over the past two years, Anna says she’s seen a few changes in her daughter.
“She’s slurring her words a little more now. Her memory has gotten a lot worse too. She still remembers a lot of things, especially from the far back, but recent things are hard for her to remember,” Anna said.
But Amanda sees it differently.

“I’m hanging in there. I’m doing pretty well, pretty well, pretty most. For the most part, I’m doing pretty good,” Amanda said.

Perhaps the biggest change is that Amanda now walks with the help of a cane.

“Walking a little slower these days, but I’m still walking, just hanging in there,” she said. “My balance has been a little off.”

Amanda’s family has participated in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s many times over the years to help fund research to find a cure.

Husband and wife David and Dara Wanzer are the co-chairs for this year’s walk, pouring hours upon hours into planning and fundraising.

“Once you’ve had a family member affected by this disease, it’s touched your family, and touched someone who’s care-giving for that person, it’s hard to not get a passion to see this disease get eradicated,” David said.

“We have close family members who’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, it’s the only disease that is currently, well it’s deadly, but it’s uncurable, and we have a passion for finding a cure,” Dara said.

Until a cure is found, Amanda clings to hope, and is proud, as she should be, about her current abilities.

“I can still do a lot of stuff on my own, you know, take a shower, clean my, clean my room when I can,” she laughed. “I don’t really clean my room a lot.”

Amanda can also still read, which is one of her favorite hobbies.

She has regained control of her jaw, which involuntarily moved from side to side back in 2018.

Each year, Amanda travels with her mother to Indiana to participate in the DIAN Study, or the ‘Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network.’

She understands that their research might not be able to help her, but she makes the long journey to help others like her in the future.

Something Amanda will never forget is losing her family so early to Alzheimer’s.

Two years after our first interview, and just as she told News 4 in 2018, she still remembers their exact ages.

“My aunt and uncle passed away at 42 and 43. My dad lasted the longest at 47, but still it’s just too young to go. I just want to see them go longer,” Amanda said as tears streamed down her face.

It’s for people like Amanda that this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 17th is so important.

It will have to go on without her this time, as her legs are now too weak to carry her far.

But Amanda continues her own walk – a walk of faith that a cure will someday be found.

“I’m still alive. I’m blessed, I’ve got a church family, I’ve got my mom and my pop and it’s like, I’m just, I’m just great,” Amanda said.

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