When I was eleven years old, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is not like other horrible illnesses like cancer. Alzheimer's takes the soul of the person; it wipes out their essence before it claims their body. Fortunately, I knew her before the disease took hold and that is what kept the fear at bay when she got sick and very rapidly became a stranger.
Although my father was too emotionally distraught and my cousins were too frightened to visit her, I decided that I would continue to visit her often. For the last six years, I visit her every other day, even on the days when she is emotional and agitated and lost. Those are the worst days for me, but I still go.
Visiting my grandmother has taught me much about myself. I have learned that I am stronger and more resilient than I might of guessed; I find a way even when life is tough. I have also discovered that love is stronger than fear and that relationships are sustained through small gestures. Beyond learning these things about myself, my life's purpose has become clear to me. I want to work in my family's pharmaceutical business because I know that it is work that will serve others and I hope that eventually we could contribute to finding a cure for Alzheimer's.
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