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  • Writer's pictureErin Pryce

Family History

The HDSA tells me that May is Huntington's Disease Awareness month. I had no idea this was a thing, but they don't have an ice bucket challenge! My family's story starts with my grandmother, Alfreda. I don't know which one of her parents, if either, had the disease. Back then, people died younger, and HD was confused for mental illness or alcoholism. She had a twin brother, Alfred (which leads me to believe whoever named them was mentally ill). He did not have the disease. All I remember about him is that he had a lot of booze in his trunk. My sisters said he suffered from survivor's guilt, but I didn't understand the concept until I was older. I don't remember my grandmother being out of her wheelchair and have very few memories of her before she went in a home. She was always very happy to see us and seemed to recognize us, but she was very difficult to understand. My grandfather was very angry about her disease and talked about how pretty she used to be. They had two sons, my father (right in picture) and my uncle Lee (left) who both inherited the HD gene from her. They were two years apart and developed symptoms around the same age, and both died at 66. My uncle passed this year in February. He didn't have kids, so I am proud to say that I will be the last person in our family with the disease.

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