In the FOF annals, Pat Summit is well, at the summit. A.) She’s a woman. B.) She’s the head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. C.) She’s won more games than any coach—man or woman—in NCAA basketball history.
Pat is 59 and she recently announced that she’s been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, which means the disease is found before age 65. About 200,000 Americans have it. Pat knew something was wrong when she couldn’t recall strategic plays, lost her keys numerous times throughout the day and forgot about important team meetings. A battery of tests at the Mayo Clinic revealed the horrible diagnosis.
Pat wants to keep coaching for the next few years, she told the media, although it is impossible to predict the trajectory of the disease. Thank heavens the University is letting her continue in her role, with more assistance from her coaching staff.
What frightens me most about this disease is the stage when victims know they have it, but it hasn’t yet made its full impact. I am not sure I’d be able to live with the thought that I was losing a little more of my mind every day. Frankly, I’d rather get cancer. Yes, cancer is horrific, but at least there are many drugs to stall and even stop its progress. And there’s hope. There is no hope with Alzheimer’s.
My thoughts are with Pat and her families–on and off the court.