June 22nd, 2018

Marple’s courage in going public with dementia diagnosis has had benefits

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 12, 2018.

Being bold enough to put a name and face to it takes courage.

There are all sorts of issues that make Hatters annoyed. Some choose to leave an anonymous comment for Ticked Off & Tickled Pink. Others make a telephone call to the News and vent. It is fairly rare for an individual to be willing to have their name in print regarding the issue they feel strongly about, unless they are part of an organization. There are even fewer people who are willing to have their photo in the newspaper along with their comments, especially if it is controversial.

A couple years ago one brave person was willing to reveal publicly that he had dementia and was willing to have his photo run with the story. It was the first time the News had someone willing to do this.

Local resident Roger Marple, at the age of 57, counted the cost before agreeing to an interview and newspaper story. He was willing to stick his neck out because he wanted to create awareness about dementia. Even so, on the day of publication he said he was worried about the possible negative reaction.

He discovered he had support on many levels. There were people who had been frightened to talk about their dementia diagnosis and finally they felt comfortable talking to him. It felt as though he was a good friend who truly understood the predicament they were in. Others had a loved one diagnosed with the disease and finally they could talk frankly with Marple.

It wasn’t as though it had all been smooth sailing for Marple. After being diagnosed he felt he was in a really dark place for some time and he looked long and hard to find a glimmer of hope.

He wanted people to know it is possible to have a really good quality of life — even with dementia. He wanted to remove the stigma associated with the disease.

This week Marple became one of the people selected for the Alzheimer Society’s national awareness campaign.

Marple’s life has changed dramatically in the last couple years. He is giving people hope as he freely shares how he is living life to the full — not just coping with a diagnosis of dementia.

Our whole community has benefitted from Marple’s brave interview and story two years ago. In fact with the national awareness campaign the whole of Canada is benefitting.

There are some lessons for all of us to learn from his example.

Sticking your neck out is never easy but there can be huge rewards on numerous levels. It certainly takes courage but like most worthwhile things in life is worth it.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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