Victor Monsour opens up about Alzheimer's diagnosis, involvement in clinical trial

Victor Monsour opens up about Alzheimer's diagnosis, involvement in clinical trial

He is well-known in Southwest Louisiana for his beautiful photography. Now, 35 years into a successful career, Victor Monsour has retired his camera after being given a life-altering diagnosis.

Monsour has Alzheimer's disease and he is part of a clinical trial he hopes will slow the progression of the cureless disease.

Flipping through the pages of the "Marshes to Mansions" cookbook, snapshots of South Louisiana fill the spaces between recipes, all taken by the talented Victor Monsour.

"That was near the Lorraine Bridge," he said, pointing to a photo.

Monsour's memory is still there, but it is something that has faded in recent months. His daughter, Megan Monsour Hartman, said it became noticeable early last year with every day tasks.

"He had a difficult time trying to get out of the seatbelt or needing help to know which way was hot or cold on the thermostat," she said. "Difficulty leaving tips at restaurants — these were all things that my dad has always done and known how to do.  So we knew there was definitely something going on."

The changes were something Monsour noticed, himself. One day, he was on a fishing outing with a friend.

"I couldn't even tie the knots," he said.  "Before I could just (makes tying noise), that fast; it'd be done. Now I'm having to learn that because it's not in my brain anymore."

A series of tests and MRIs led to the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease last summer, on Monsour's 59th birthday.

"I think it puts everything in a whole new perspective," said Hartman.

Ensuring Monsour's safety has changed everything about the day-to-day living.

"No more power equipment, lawn tools, even cooking or microwaving; those are some things that could be a potential safety hazard," said Hartman.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that worsens over time. It has no cure, but treatment is available to improve the quality of life. Research, including clinical trials, is happening now.  

Dr. Kashinath Yadalam with Lake Charles Clinical Trials is leading four clinical trials for Alzheimer's patients in Southwest Louisiana.  

The one Monsour is a part of is Nourish AD, a one-year study with a drug made from palm and coconut oils. The hope is that it powers the brain through an alternate energy source.

"It's an extract from coconuts and to get the amount that we give to patients, you need to eat 50 coconuts a day," said Dr. Yadalam, "so this is an extract and the compound itself is called a medium chain triglyceride."

The study is in two stages.

"In the first stage, a person may get a drug or a placebo. In the second 26 weeks, everybody gets the drug," said Dr. Yadalam.

Monsour said he is hopeful the drug will help him or others in the future.

While his days are different now, no cooking, yardwork or driving, he said he is willing to accept the changes, but is not throwing in the towel.

"It's very frustrating," he said, "but I'm not a quitter at anything. I don't give up on anything."

Monsour said he is appreciative of the support his friends and family have given him.  They will be a part of Team Monsour at the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, October 31 at the Lake Charles Civic Center Amphitheater.  Click here for event information.

Click here to learn more about clinical trials in Lake Charles enrolling patients. They are all free and simply require an assessment to see which would be the best fit. 

Copyright KPLC 2015.  All rights reserved.