The Dance | CMDA Product Resource

Dementia | FTD
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The Dance


Our Journey Through Frontotemporal Degeneration


The Dance is a lively memoir of a couple’s five-year journey through a little-known, non-Alzheimer’s dementia -Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD). Deborah and Alan’s story is told with honesty, humor and love. The Dance illustrates of how the ‘normality’ of Deborah and Alan’s life was stolen away by FTD. They danced together for almost thirty-eight years until Alan’s death in 2012. How they handled this challenge together and with the help of their family and friends shines some light on this uncommonly diagnosed disease. FTD strikes men and women from the age of 35 onwards. It is most commonly diagnosed from age 50 onwards but has been seen in people as young as 20 and as old as 80. It is often accompanied by physical conditions such as Motor Neuron Disease or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The average time between diagnosis and death is between four and ten years. Added to the pain of dealing with an untreatable, incurable illness is the loss of person, insight, and empathy for others. The grieving begins long before physical death. Further information on FTD can be found at

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by Deborah G. Thelwell

Deborah Thelwell was born in Manchester, England. She is a registered nurse and currently manages a nursing unit at a busy trauma center in Arizona. She and her husband Alan immigrated to the United States in 1999 with their sons, Christopher and Adam. Since Alan’s death in 2012, Deborah has continued to live and work in Arizona, close to her family and friends.

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