31-year-old Daniel Bradbury was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in September of 2017, when he was just 30 years old. This form of the disease, caused by a mutation of the PSEN1 gene, is the same one that took the life of his father in 1999 at the young age of 36. Because of the family history involved, the diagnosis did not come as a complete surprise, but it was still a heartbreaking realization for Daniel and his girlfriend Jordan, who had recently welcomed two new babies into their family, twins Jasper and Lola.
“I had an inkling. We did research ourselves before then, but it’s not good news to take on board,” Daniel says. “It took a long time to finally get over the shock. I have found acceptance now, and I’m sure Jordan has as well, but it is still hard.”
Daniel and Jordan, from Hucknall, Nottingham, were far from ready to give up on each other or on Daniel’s life though. They continued to work on treating Daniel’s condition as best they could, all the while watching for the signs of deterioration. Daniel regularly suffers from confusion, memory loss, and balance issues, and there is no treatment that can help him hold onto what’s left of these skills and memories for very long.
A few months after his diagnosis, Daniel proposed to Jordan, and the couple planned their wedding in just three months in an attempt to give Daniel as much time with his new bride as possible.
On August 11, 2018, Daniel and Jordan were wed in a beautiful ceremony, during which they read their own handwritten vows to each other.
“Emotions were high,” says Jordan, “and it just meant so much to me to be able to make my promises to him on this bittersweet journey.”
She adds: “We felt like we blinked and the day was over but we couldn’t be happier with how Dan was feeling on the day, and how supportive our family and friends were.”
Daniel later promised her that he meant every word of his vows and would always feel that way about Jordan, in spite of everything Alzheimer’s might take from him. Now Jordan will always have his vows to cherish and remember him by when he loses the ability to tell her and show her how he loves her.
The family is now left with the task of making as many memories as they can while Daniel is still able to do fun things with his kids. The couple created a crowdfunding page in the hopes of earning £10,000 for a trip to Disney World, but they were floored when the page quickly garnered £20,000, with over 900 supporters.
“Our coping mechanism is live day by day,” says Jordan, “because if we think too much about what is going to happen and the future, it will just bog us down. So we try and make every day fun.”
The twins are going on two years old now, and each has a 50 percent chance of developing the disease that will eventually take their father’s life. However, the couple hopes that Daniel’s participation in groundbreaking studies will help researchers find a cure to Alzheimer’s so that their children won’t have to go through what Daniel is experiencing, even if they are diagnosed with the disease.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?