IT IS HARD to imagine how Michelle Boryszczuk must have felt when she started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease at just 36 years old.
Knowing she would suffer the same awful fate as her father, who died of early-onset Alzheimer’s at 46, must have been dreadful.
But Michelle did not let it get her down, and instead wrote about her experiences and even planned her own funeral, in a series of heartbreaking diary entries which she hid from her husband.
Seven years on, former Market Rasen secretary Michelle is in the final stages of the disease – she cannot talk, struggles to feed herself and is confined to a wheelchair.
Husband of 27 years Steve, 46, gave up his job to look after his wife and has always hoped he was giving her care she would have wanted.
All of Steve’s questions were answered when he discovered Michelle’s secret diary while cleaning out the airing cupboard at the family home in Snelland Road, Wickenby.
“I had followed the instructions without knowing about them – she wanted to go into a specialist care home, to try all the different tablets that could help her and for me to go to counselling, which I’ve started doing.
“It’s just as if I’d known even though she never mentioned any of this to me. We’ve been together since she was 15, so we know each other inside out.
“She wanted me to find the notes eventually, but tried to keep everything from me at the time because she didn’t want to upset me. She’s gone through this all on her own,” said Steve.
Finding the diary has been some comfort for Steve, but he still finds it hard to watch his once “bubbly” wife suffer in this way.
He said: “Every day at the same time she bursts into tears and then 10 minutes later she’s happy. It’s strange, it’s like she’s having flashbacks.
“She’s always been a happy, bubbly person. Even now, she still tries to be happy and when we put music on she wriggles about in her chair.
“With her being so young – and the fact she’s never smoked or drunk alcohol – there’s always hope that one day they’ll find a cure for her. I know deep down that isn’t going to happen, but I always hope.”
There is a chance the couple’s two sons have inherited the early-onset Alzheimer’s gene and Steve now wants to raise as much money as possible for the Alzheimer’s Society to fund research into the disease.
So, determined to raise cash, Steve has made the heartbreaking decision to leave Michelle for the first time since they got married and do a six-day 140km trek along the Great Wall of China.
Steve, who will embark on the challenge on October 5, said: “The worst thing will be leaving my wife – we’ve never been apart since we got married 27 years ago. I’ll be thinking about Michelle every step of the way.
“It’ll be very hard but I’ve got to do it because it’s for a good cause. I want the money I raise to be used for research and hopefully they’ll find a cure one day.
Steve’s trek has been sponsored by Rase Steels in Gallamore Lane, Market Rasen. Rase Steels partner Rowley Boulton said: “We thought he was a very good cause and I’ve known him for a very long time. It’s just something we wanted to get involved in.”
The Boryszczuks’ incredible story has hit the headlines around the world and Steve has appeared on TV and radio shows as far away as Brazil.
So far Steve – and his brother Stanley, who is also doing the trek – have raised £10,000. To make a donation go to justgiving.com/steveboryszczuk .