When Gianna Cabo suffered from memory lapses and withdrew from family and friends, her mom thought it was COVID — let alone dementia — for a long time.
“I felt like someone had just punched me in the heart. I sat stunned,” said Cabo’s mother, Rebecca Robertson, 50, said SWNS. “I thought that can’t be true, she’s only 19. I never thought it could be dementia — not in my wildest dreams.”
Robertson, of McKinney, Texas, noticed something was wrong with her bright and lively daughter in September 2020 as she went from being the home teacher to an inability to keep up.
Cabo has had a rough year. In 2019, she and her mother were involved in a car accident that left Robertson with a severe concussion and herniated discs in her neck.
Then, in June 2020, Cabo was hit by the coronavirus.
Months later, she struggled with memory loss and the ability to perform simple tasks like operating a can opener.
When Cabo began to withdraw from her friends, stopped doing her homework, and fell asleep right at home, Robertson decided to seek medical help.
“As the weeks went by, she got more and more problems at school. The answer to each question was, ‘I don’t remember,'” recalls the distraught Robertson. “If asked why she didn’t do her homework, she would say she couldn’t remember.”
The mother assumed her daughter might be suffering from mental stress due to the pandemic and was prescribed antidepressants in June 2021.
Cabo also sought counseling, but her condition continued to deteriorate.
“All of a sudden I got calls from her teachers saying, ‘She’s one of our best students.’ [but] Now when she’s in class, she’s in la-la-land, staring blankly out the window,” Robertson recalled. “She became more and more distant and apathetic. She said, ‘I just feel lost.'”
Robertson said the severity of Cabo’s memory loss became apparent during her high school graduation. Other students excitedly discussed their future while her daughter struggled to keep up.
“She just had tears in her eyes,” she said sadly. “She asked me, ‘Don’t I need to be excited?’ But she felt nothing.”
Robertson took the teenager to a neurologist in November 2022, and after a battery of medical tests, doctors found no electrical activity in Cabo’s right central lobe.
She was diagnosed with dementia.
Now Cabo, 20, can’t recall any of her happy childhood memories, Robertson said.
“I asked her what the happiest moment of your life was and she just looked confused and said, ‘I don’t remember,'” she said.
At some point during Cabo’s decline, she took all of her childhood photos in her room. When her mother asked why, she explained, “She didn’t remember them being taken away.”
Robertson admits she feels her daughter is “slipping away” — and no one knows what to do.
“I just pray there is a treatment that can give me some hope,” the distressed mother said. “She doesn’t laugh anymore. She doesn’t get up. Whatever you ask her, any time of the day or night, she just says, ‘I don’t remember.'”
“The saddest part is that Gianna doesn’t mind,” she continued. “There are no emotions there. none. She is 100% apathetic.”
According to the Child Dementia InitiativeChildhood dementia results from progressive brain damage and has been linked to over 70 rare genetic disorders.
There is no cure, but treatment options include medication, therapy, and nutritional services.