CHICAGO (WLS) -- Alzheimer's disease affects more than 5 million Americans. That number is expected to jump by 40 percent in the next ten years. There is an urgent push to help find a cure.
Alzheimer's is not just hitting the elderly - more people are being diagnosed in their 40s and 50s.
Pati Hoffman, of Carol Stream, writes in her journal on her good days and bad days. She knows soon, those words won't come so easily.
"I'm working on a book. The name of it will be 'Before I Forget,'" Hoffman said.
Diagnosed at age 56, Pati is considered young to be getting Alzheimer's. But she said she knew something was wrong.
"I started to get lost going to work. I worked with a lot of food brokers. I saw them all the time. I'd walk up to them and their name was gone. Just gone," Hoffman said.
Alzheimer's affects an estimated 5.3 million people in the U.S. In Illinois, more than 200,000 people are living with the disease. While medication helps improve a patient's quality of life, there is still no cure. So much remains a mystery.
"A person's life span beyond diagnosis is 2 to 20 years. It's hard to give families a sense of what their loved ones will actually do - how it will play out for them," said Theresa Dewey, of the Alzheimer's Association.
For Pati, simple chores now need visual reminders. She feels the disease progressing.
"I know I repeat myself many times because I see people around me going (looks up). I probably just said that story," Hoffman said.
Pati is a mother and grandmother. She is determined to face Alzheimer's with courage and humor. What she is not ready for, is knowing what she will leave behind.
"Not being able to see my grandson grow up. That's the hardest part," Hoffman said.
Pati is one of thousands of people who will be taking part in the Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sunday at Montrose Harbor.
The money raised will fund research for treatment and the fight to find a cure. ABC7's Judy Hsu will be there to kick off the walk. All are welcome.
Help find a cure at Walk to End Alzheimer's