British journalist and TV host Fiona Phillips has revealed that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 61.
In an exclusive interview with a British tabloid, Phillips said the neurodegenerative disease, which commonly affects memory, reasoning and mood, had already “decimated” her family.
“My mum, my dad, my uncle Barry. I mean it just goes on and on,” Phillips told the Daily Mirror.
“This disease has ravaged my family and now it has come for me. And all over the country there are people of all different ages whose lives are being affected by it – it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
The former ITV breakfast show host is currently a columnist at the Mirror.
According to the newspaper, Phillips was diagnosed a year ago, after suffering from anxiety and brain fog. Although she had expected to receive the news one day, she said it still came as a shock, especially as she had thought her symptoms were menopause-related.
“It’s something I might have thought I’d get at 80,” she said.
The columnist said she felt more “angry than anything else” at the diagnosis, because Alzheimer’s had already heavily impacted her life and many family members.
Phillips is currently taking part in clinical trials at a London hospital for the drug Miridesap, which could potentially slow the effects of the disease.
“I just hope I can help find a cure which might make things better for others in the future,” she said.
Phillips added that her husband, fellow TV journalist Martin Frizell, has been helping her take her medication three times a day.
“Poor Martin, bless him. He’s injecting my stomach,” she said, describing how the medication is administered.
Asked how she is coping with her diagnosis, Phillips said she just does what she normally does.
“Otherwise what do I do? I don’t want to not work. I don’t want to be sitting around playing around my fingers.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting as many as 5.8 million Americans as of 2020, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.