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 News Stories

Yesterday, 19:00
myplace

Young people’s issues were at the forefront of a lively election hustings last night.

Yesterday, 16:42
James Greenwood, from Romford, who has been missing since March 15

A 27-year-old man last seen at a hospital in Goodmayes six weeks ago has gone missing.

Yesterday, 16:13
The collision happened on Cherry Tree Lane in the early hours of this morning.                  Photo: Google Maps

Three men were arrested in the early hours of this morning after their vehicle collided with two police cars in South Hornchurch.

Yesterday, 14:31
A new McDonald's drive through will be built in the Brewery car park

Romford will see another McDonald’s restaurant and drive through appear in the town centre after plans were approved by Havering Council last week.

Most read news

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

Spruce up for spring with this beauty bundle from Justmylook!

Looking to update your look for spring? Well, you’re in luck.

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder