Possibly the best sellling fantasy novelist ever and certainly Britain's biggest selling author until J.K. Rowling, Terry Prachett has announced he is suffering from a rare case of early onset Alzheimer’s.
The news has come to his millions of fans, including me. I've nejoyed his work for years, since the release of The Colour of Magic, to be broadcast as a drama by Sky next Easter..
The 59-year-old writer made the announcement through a web posting to fans on the website of illustrator Paul Kidby, who has worked on many of Pratchett’s Discworld titles.
Describing the illness as “An Embuggerance” and also advising that he is definitely not dead, Terry told fans he would have liked to keep the illness quiet for a little while, "but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".
"We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism," he continued. "For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet.
"I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as'I am not dead'," he added. "I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."
In addition to the immensely popular Discworld series, Prachett co-authored Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, and several of his novels have been adapted into comics. His books have sold more than 45 million copies around the globe.
Last year, Pratchett told the Daily Mail that he had been unaware that he had suffered a stroke until he had a brain scan, which showed that a stroke had been caused by a blood clot which created a blockage in the artery to his brain. Two or three years before the stroke was diagnosed, he had noticed "that his typing had been going all over the place", he said. Pratchett finally decided to see a doctor while working on a manuscript and felt as though he was "typing wearing gloves".
Alzheimer's disease is a (currently incurable) progressive, degenerative and irreversible brain disorder that causes intellectual impairment, disorientation and eventually death and it's estimated that 2-5 per cent of people over 65 years of age and up to 20 per cent of those over 85 years of age suffer from the disease. Some 417,000 people suffer from Alzheimer's in Britain, but of all those diagnosed, only 3.5 per cent are aged under 65.
"Mr Pratchett's decision to discuss his diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is a brave one," Neil Hunt, chief executve of Britain's Alzheimer's Society commented. "It is all the more encouraging because of his resolve to remain so positive... [his] commitment to continue working reflects the experiences of many people, who in the earliest stages of dementia will work and socialise with the support of loved ones and carers."
You can support the work of the Society by making an online donation or taking part in one of their many fund raising events.
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