Former editorial cartoonist Jerry Holbert and his wife Cheryl
are struggling with a rare and incurable form of dementia.
After a long road of prayer, testing, misdiagnosing, and questions, Jerry was finally diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2019 – a rare form of dementia where portions of the brain shrink (atrophy) leading to devastating personality and behavioral changes. There is no medical cure.
Jerry left the Herald in 2018 after a 32-year run. With help from Cheryl, Jerry was still drawing cartoons for Andrews McMeel Syndication until November. Working, Cheryl said, gave Jerry a sense of purpose but he was denied disability last year because he was still drawing for Andrews McMeel. The couple is appealing the decision…
The symptoms began about five years ago. Jerry, always savvy and very humorous, was struggling to process concepts for his cartoons. He began to lose his ability to manage finances, Cheryl said, and his drawings became less detailed. He began to withdraw.
Finally, last August, a neurologist diagnosed Jerry with frontotemporal dementia, for which there is no treatment or cure.
“It is constantly attacking what makes a person who they are,” Cheryl said of the cruel disease. “It just takes everything in one fell swoop.”
Jerry can no longer drive, work or go anywhere alone. He’s easily distracted, his wife said, and needs constant supervision. Cheryl, 59, is Jerry’s primary caregiver, all the while running her home business, Nomad Bakery, so she can support the couple and pay for her husband’s hefty out-of-pocket medical expenses.
These days, Jerry isn’t motivated to draw much anymore.
Sometimes, with Cheryl’s encouragement, Jerry will draw monsters.
“He’s there,” Cheryl said, “he’s just there with this severe disability.”
Friends of Jerry and Cheryl have set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
We are starting a campaign to help Cheryl with two important funding needs for 2020:
1. Ongoing care for Jerry. Cheryl cannot be Jerry’s only caretaker – he needs professional help. Here are the associated costs:
Weekday Care: $132/day with transport x 5 days/week = $660/week = $2,640/mo.
Weekend Care: One weekend day per week is $272 which is $1088/mo.
TOTAL care for 2020 is $3,728/mo or an annual sum of $44,736
2. Expected out of pocket Medical expenses for 2020 are $15,000
Please consider contributing if possible.