Search

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

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 VictorMaureen 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

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 17:31
Dennis Kutyauripo, 22, says he

The older brother of a 16-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by his former friend, has said he “feels sorry” for the killer.

Yesterday, 15:01
Charlie Kutyauripo, 16, was murdered in Woodford Bridge. Photo: @MostAuthentic

A 17-year-old boy was today convicted of stabbing his former friend to death outside a birthday party, just over a year after the incident.

Yesterday, 17:00
From left, Havering Council's head of clinical practice Dave Tapsell, director of children's services  Tim Aldridge, and Robert South head of care resources

Despite Ofsted inspectors rating a vulnerable children’s service as requiring improvement, its department head remains optimistic.

Yesterday, 16:50
A man was robbed at knifepoint earlier today outside Tesco Extra, Rainham. Picture: Havering MPS Twitter

A man is in police custody after a male was robbed at knifepoint.

Yesterday, 16:11
Diana award winner Kieran Goodwin in his home

This week, Romford’s Kieran Goodwin, chief executive of youth charity World Youth Organisation (WYO) which celebrated its first anniversary, picked his top 10 all-time favourite tunes.

Yesterday, 14:30
Harry and some of the toys he donated with Michelle Fitzgibbons and the mascot of Romford Shopping Hall, Roary.

An 87-year-old avid stamp collector and a big ‘Dulux’ dog were to thank for a big bundle of toys being donated to children in hospital.

Yesterday, 13:05
More than 40,000 trees will be planted across London. Picture: PA.

Havering is set to benefit from an influx of 250 trees as part of plans to make London one of the greenest cities in the world.

Yesterday, 12:00
Picture taken on the top floor of the leisure centre where the ice rink will be.

With two housing zones and plenty more going on in Havering this year, the Recorder has compiled a list of some of the developments due to take shape over the coming months.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Are you in need of a new kitchen? Try our competition and you could win a brand new one!

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.

MyOffers H&M Competition

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