Five Minutes of Amazing (My Journey Through Dementia) – Chris Graham with Wendy Holden
The Last Word Review
On the back cover of the book there is a quote “I’m being forced to consider dying at an earlier than most. Am I scared? I don’t know I never died before” Five Minutes of Amazing is Chris Graham’s story written with the bestselling writer Wendy Holden.
At the young age of just 38 Chris received the devastating news that he was suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. He lost his father to the same disease when he was in his forties and his brother is in a nursing home also in his forties. To anyone this would be shattering news seeing his brother in a home would be a mirror image of what life could be like for Chris. He had a long-standing career in the army, so well respected yet now faces a life away from serving his country. Chris’s girlfriend Vicky was expecting their first child.
Life suddenly has been turned on its head for the couple. For Chris though he was not going to submit to what amounts as a death sentence lightly. He wanted to leave a legacy and so it was just after the birth of their son’s birth Chris set off on an adventure. Any other time most would consider what was to come as sheer madness but not for Chris. This was going to be an epic 16,000-mile solo cycle around North America raising money for Alzheimer’s research. Now just imagine this for one moment. Here is a man knowing that fate has dealt him the cruellest of hands yet leaving Vicky at home with their baby son he will set off on his cycle with just his own humour to keep him going. This is a remarkable story of that adventure a legacy to research. So it was in the Spring of 2015 Chris said an emotional goodbye to his family and set off for Canada the starting point of this 16,000-mile race against time.
When you consider that Chris has been diagnosed with this rare form of Alzheimer’s and then sets off on a 16,000-mile cycle trek across a land that is strange to him, just consider the challenges he would be facing at given moment. Frightening just thinking about it. This whole story from start to finish is nothing short of inspirational. There is lots of emotion in the story but also great humour.
Five Minutes of Amazing is touching and heart-rending and I found I could not put the book down. Chris’s story is one that will touch anyone who has been through seeing a loved one suffer from this terrible disease. Sadly, for me I have and subsequently went on an adventure raising money for the same cause in 2013.
Chris made it home just before Christmas 2015 and was re-united with Vicky and their son Dexter determined to spend whatever time was left with his family. A deeply moving story and one I whole-hardheartedly recommend everyone to read.
The words at the end of the book will stay long with me as I am sure they will to anyone who has read them.
My thanks to Wendy Holden and to Sphere for the advanced review copy.
Five Minutes of Amazing by Wendy Holden is published by Sphere in hardback and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.