Travel agent Jenny Jackson is to take part in a fundraising walk in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society after being diagnosed with advanced dementia.
Jackson, who runs Luxury Travel Gurus and is part of Holidaysplease’s homeworking group, admitted her world “came crashing down” when she was diagnosed earlier this summer.
After the stress of the pandemic and months of dealing with refunds and cancellations, Jackson thought the stress of her job was taking its toll as she found her memory failing, confusion creeping in and completing simple tasks, particularly numbers, harder than usual.
After seeing a neurologist and undergoing an MRI scan, her worst fears were confirmed.
“I went through a really dark period when I was diagnosed. It really set me back and my world fell apart. I was not prepared for what the doctor told me and for a number of weeks I couldn’t cope,” admitted Jackson, who turns 69 this week.
Jackson, who suffered two brain haemorrhages and has had two strokes, said she was determined to continue working for as long as she can and wanted to help fund research and support others suffering from or at risk of dementia.
She said: “I love my job and I want to work as long as I can. I think working has helped me to get through but there used to be a time I could work on five or six enquiries at once.
“My short-term memory is bad and I can only now work on one enquiry at a time and I have to write everything down and make sure everything is correct. I have to be more meticulous.”
Jackson is walking the 2km London Memory Walk on September 11, with an initial target of £500. So far she has raised just over £100.
“We all know someone who has dementia or could potentially get it. You cannot stop it but you can manage it,” she said, adding: “It’s imperative for companies to understand the stress travel agents are under and nobody knows about anyone’s underlying health conditions; it can creep up on you when you least expect it.”
Jackson, who is the administrator for Facebook group Travel Agent Rants and Raves and well known in the trade, said she has had huge support from both clients and staff at Holidaysplease but is worried about the future.
“I have a loyal client base and I still offer the same five-star service to customers even if I don’t always remember their children’s names in the way I used to – at least I can laugh about it. The staff at Holidaysplease have been really supportive and email me regularly; it’s nice to know I have support if I struggle,” she said, adding: “I am a fighter but now I worry about my future.”
Donations can be made here.