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Determined to find a cure, one Green Bay woman raises Alzheimer's Awareness

Posted at 6:06 AM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 07:06:21-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Reminiscing. It's something Green Bay resident Therese Barry-Tanner does often. Memories with her family she'll never forget, from her mother's 60th birthday, to a vacation to Springfield.

“My mother had Alzheimer's disease and was probably diagnosed in the early 2000s," said Barry-Tanner. “It's just, the struggle is that you feel so helpless, and at the time you're feeling helpless, you're watching just a tragedy unfold with one of the people you love the most. It's hard on everybody.”

It's the reason she decided to become a participant for an Alzheimer's study at UW Health Madison. Dr. Sterling Johnson is the Principal Investigator for the study, and says it's for people in their 50s or 60s who have a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's.

"For the most part, they have a parent who had Alzheimer's disease,” said Dr. Johnson.

Barry-Tanner has been a part of the study for almost 20 years. But, she wanted to do more.

“I felt very strongly… our communities across this country need a wake up call about this..”

It took 10 years, but through a lot of meetings, screenings and late nights, Barry-Tanner is ready to share her findings with the world. Her independently filmed documentary "Determined: Fighting Alzheimers" premiered on Wednesday, April 6 on PBS. It follows three women a part of the UW Health study.

“What stood out to us was the different phases of their lives for each of these women," said Barry-Tanner. "So we had diversity in terms of age, we had diversity in terms of location, because this disease has no caring for any characteristics about any of us.”

Dr. Johnson commends the documentary for raising awareness.

“When do these proteins start going bad in midlife? How early can we detect it? And what can we do about it? That's really the value of the study," said Dr. Johnson. "And the documentary really brings out this idea… That it's only through dedicated, generous, determined participants as research subjects that we can get to these answers. “

It's a call to action: the more people, the more research.

“We need the choir to be, instead of this big, I can't even get my arms far enough out to tell you how big we need to get it," said Barry-Tanner. "That's the mission of the film... to move people in different ways to action.”

Finding a way fro everyone to never forget how hard this disease can hit.

If you missed the debut of "Determined", you can stream it for free on the PBS app through May 3.