In this book, CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen recounts his struggle as he takes on the role of caregiver for his wife, Jan. In 2005, at the age of only 55, Jan was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, a life-changing moment that led to their utter exhaustion and devastation, as together they fought against the insidious illness. Jan’s Story leads readers through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that evolved, intensified, and, at its climax, almost destroyed Barry as he realized that he was losing Jan. Not only is Jan’s Story a tribute to his beloved wife, but the book also poses a plethora of questions surrounding the actions and agony of being a caregiver, and what unfolds when one partner in a marriage is suddenly incapable of participating in the relationship. A portion of the author's royalties from the book will be donated to the national Alzheimer’s Association and to the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.
In Jan’s Story, Jan Petersen is introduced as an amazing, lively, and vivacious woman whose love for her husband, Barry, led her around the world and back again. Jan’s laughter and passion for adventure made her perfect for CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen, whose job took them from postings in San Francisco to Tokyo to Moscow to London and then again to Japan and China.
In 2005 Jan was diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and Barry was suddenly forced into a world of caregiving for which virtually no one is prepared. At only 55 years of age, Jan’s life began to slowly deteriorate, and while medications slowed the disease, they could not conquer it.
After years in a profession where bearing witness to tragedy was an everyday occurrence, Alzheimer’s proved the one hurdle cruel enough to bring Barry to his knees. Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia were no match to watching his precious Jan fade away. Barry and Jan fought the disease with all they had, but no amount of strength could assuage their anguish.
Jan’s behavioral unpredictability, Barry’s determination to control the uncontrollable, paired with the aching and inevitable knowledge that Jan needed to go into an assisted living facility ultimately proved detrimental to both Barry’s physical and mental health. For Barry, then living in Asia, this meant locating a facility for Jan in the United States and moving her half a world away from him.
Barry would soon find that in his attempts to do what was best for Jan, he would face both approval and condemnation. There existed those who fervently disagreed with his decisions and those who applauded his strength and offered their own doses of hope and advice. There were fellow caregivers who gave their support and who were able to warn Barry of the changes and challenges that still lay ahead.
When the worsening of Jan’s memory caused her to lose Barry, he faced an unenviable dilemma: surrender or survive. In his never ending battle to protect, honor, and cherish his darling Jan, Barry shares his journey in Jan’s Story.