Hollywood Legend Bruce Willis Battles Frontotemporal Dementia, Family Reveals Painful Diagnosis
Bruce Willis, the famous Hollywood icon, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The announcement comes nearly a year after his family confirmed that he was stepping away from acting due to an initial diagnosis of aphasia. The new diagnosis of FTD is hindering his ability to communicate, which is a significant blow to the legendary actor. As reported by People, in a statement released on Thursday, Willis' family, including his wife Emma Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore, and his children Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn, confirmed the news, saying, "FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone."
According to the Economic Times, the Alzheimer's Association defines FTD as "a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain's frontal lobes (the areas behind your forehead) or its temporal lobes (the regions behind your ears)." The nerve cell damage leads to loss of function in the brain regions and can cause deterioration in behavior, personality, and difficulty with speech and communication. Unfortunately, there are no specific treatments for FTD, which invariably gets worse over time. The speed of decline varies from case to case.
The family's statement thanked fans for their outpouring of love and compassion for Willis over the past ten months. They said in their Instagram posts, "As a family, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past ten months. Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it."
The family requested that any media attention be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research, emphasizing that Bruce himself has always believed in using his voice in the world to help others and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. They explained what the disease can be like: "FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead."
The family also said that while it is painful to have come to this realisation and Bruce faces difficulty with communication, it is a relief to have a clear diagnosis. They pointed out how Willis too believed in finding joy in the worst circumstances: "Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us."
Willis is a legendary actor who has starred in blockbuster movies such as Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, and Armageddon. His charismatic presence on the screen has made him a household name, and his talent has been recognized with numerous awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
The Association of Frontotemporal Regeneration have released the family's full statement. The family here has made a plea for people to take this opportunity to educate themselves about this issue: "Ours is just one family with a loved one who suffers from FTD, and we encourage others facing it to seek out the wealth of information and support available through AFTD (@theaftd, theaftd.org). And for those of you who have been fortunate enough to not have any personal experience with FTD, we hope that you will take the time to learn about it, and support AFTD’s mission in whatever way you can."