A few years ago, 73-year-old Michael Gross of Mahwah, New Jersey began to realize that something was wrong. "I was confused about words," he said, "and it just got worse."
But Mr. Gross, the retired head of an advertising agency, was surprised when a doctor suggested a spinal tap to look for proteins that are a sign of Alzheimer's. He couldn't have this disease, thought Mr. Gross.
"I said, 'No way, not me," he said.
But he did.
He was crying, he was desperate.
Then he asked: What could he do about it?
He switched to the Mediterranean diet. He started exercising. He started doing crossword puzzles and signed up for a challenging brain training session. He found a study on mice that claimed a bright light on their heads helped with Alzheimer's. He bought the light.
The disease continued. Now he cannot remember the details of a message while reading it.
Mr. Gross, a fan of the lifelong Yankees, was annoyed the day he forgot the name of the team's former manager, Casey Stengel, and determined to remember it.
"Every day I wake up and say, 'Casey Stengel, Casey Stengel," "he says.
Then he forgot the word "sardines", a staple of his Mediterranean diet. "For a week I said to myself: 'Sardines, sardines," said Mr Gross.
But what he really wanted was treatment strong enough to stop Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Gross saw an ad on Facebook for Lilly's clinical trial. He came for a test that Friday morning to see if he was eligible. It consisted of a brain scan for a protein, tau, found in dead and dying brain neurons. If it had too little dew, it would not be eligible.