Gayle Wells was a special and rare individual. A trusted friend, mentor, and confidant to her family, friends, tenants and employees, Gayle spent most of her career as the property owner/manager of the Raborn Building in Houston. A talented writer, Gayle wrote many poems, stories, and a screenplay. In 1994, she published a children’s book of short stories entitled Sometimes Things Don’t Go the Way They Should.
Gayle’s greatest accomplishments involved her ability to embrace and care for her family, friends, and animals. Gayle’s philosophy was that every living thing deserved unconditional love and tenderness. Her words of encouragement had a powerful and sustaining impact. When Gayle believed in you, she believed in you with every fiber of her being. Whether you were family or friend, there was never a bigger supporter to have in your corner.
In the fall of 2001, Gayle was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a right mastectomy in December of that year. In February 2002, as she was undergoing tests at MD Anderson Cancer Center prior to beginning chemotherapy, they discovered cancer in her left breast. On March 1, 2002, less than three months after her first surgery, she had a left mastectomy. She was 56 years old. Gayle completed six months of chemotherapy with very little difficulty. As is standard for breast cancer patients, Gayle began taking Tamoxifen for the prescribed five years. After two years of taking Tamoxifen, she began experiencing side effects, so she was prescribed a new medication, Arimidex, which she would take for the next three years.
Gayle began to notice that sometimes she had difficulty with organizational tasks and would occasionally lose her train of thought during a conversation. Doctors felt that it was due to the chemotherapy and Arimidex, so she didn’t worry too much. Just when she thought her health was beginning to stabilize, Gayle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December 2005.
While Gayle never lost the ability to recognize people, her struggles with memory issues continued and in October 2009, she was referred for neuropsychological testing. The cause of the memory issues was discovered—she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Gayle faced immeasurable obstacles throughout the cancer and Alzheimer’s, which she handled with courage, dignity, grace, and strength. On September 14, 2011, Gayle lost her battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She was 66 years old.
Gayle’s journey with early onset Alzheimer’s disease was difficult, as it became evident after her diagnosis, that there was very little information available as to the progression of the disease. It also became apparent that resources and education regarding early onset Alzheimer’s were minimal, at best. Therefore, in keeping with Gayle’s legacy of love, trust, and care for others, the Gayle Wells Foundation for Early Onset Alzheimer’s & Care was formed. It is the mission of the Foundation to provide education, programs, resources, and training as it relates to early onset Alzheimer’s disease for patients, caregivers, families, employers, and healthcare professionals.
Gayle Wells was a special and unique individual that exemplified unconditional love, trust, compassion, and generosity. The video below provides a glimpse into her life, as well as the illnesses she faced, including her battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.