Search

Elm Park mother speaks about disease that killed husband and now affects two sons

PUBLISHED: 15:24 13 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:24 13 June 2014

Maureen with sons David (back), Gary (left) and Trevor (right)

Maureen with sons David (back), Gary (left) and Trevor (right)

Archant

A mother whose two sons suffer from the same terminal illness that killed their father has spoken of the heartbreak her family faces.

Maureen and late husband Victor Maureen and late husband Victor

Maureen Smith, 80, cared for her late husband, Victor, for the last nine years of his life before he died of Huntington’s disease in 2010.

She is now faced with seeing two of her three sons deal with the same “awful” symptoms, and speaking after Huntington’s Disease Awareness Week (Jun 2-6), she said her third son has a “50/50” chance of developing the condition.

The inherited disease of the brain damages nerve cells and causes deterioration and gradual loss of functioning, affecting movement, thinking, judgement, awareness and behaviour.

David Smith, 60, was diagnosed aged 57, and is in the early stages of the disease. His younger brother, Gary, 57, is at a more advanced stage, and is cared for by his wife Carol.

“My husband suffered from it for 22 years,” said Maureen, of Wells Gardens, Elm Park. “At first it’s not too bad, but the last nine years were terrible, it was similar to Parkinson’s, and he lost control of his bowels. The caring was 24/7.”

Research carried out in 2012 found 12 in every 100,000 people suffer from the condition, while the number who have the Huntington’s gene and are not yet affected is twice that.

Early symptoms, such as personality changes and mood swings, are often overlooked or misdiagnosed.

David has moved to Spain with his wife, a country Maureen says is a lot more aware of the killer disease than the UK.

“It is little known, but there are an awful lot of people with it,” she said. “I used to call the ambulance and they would say ‘what is it, how do you get it?’ because they didn’t know.

She is now faced with seeing her children go through the same ordeal as her husband.

“It’s dreadful because I know what they are going to go through,” she said.

Read more:

‘I was emotionally, physically and mentally wrecked’ - prostate cancer victim speaks to Recorder

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Romford News Stories

17:00

Have you got a front page story, or a community issue that you think needs reporting? Then we are happy to announce that we are re-launching our regular readers’ surgeries!

Pioneering senior nurses at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) have been inspired by a Hollywood film to start the country’s first nurse mentoring service.

12:30

A musical show that blends story telling, traditional and contemporary Irish music is coming to Hornchurch.

An initiative which fines parents £100 for dangerous driving around schools could be extended.

Havering Council will this month add Upminster Station car park, the area around Romford Station and the Romford Matalan to a list of sites it expects developers to build upon in the next 15 years.

Yesterday, 17:00

Rats swarming in and out of bin bags, roaming confidently across front gardens and gnawing their way through fences – that is what residents of one Rainham street have found themselves up against.

Yesterday, 15:02

Fans can relive the unique musical talents of George Michael in a special tribute performance.

Yesterday, 12:19

Havering’s councillors look set to brand Sadiq Khan’s increased housing targets for the borough “unacceptable, unachieveable and unsustainable” at a meeting later this month.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now