By Tony Lopez

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento family struggling with a devastating diagnosis is making a heartfelt plea on this day of giving.

There are many words to describe the transformation Natalie Boylan talks about as she shares her family’s journey – one that took a major detour when her mom, Shari Reyes, began showing signs that things just weren’t right.

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“For a few years, we knew there was something going on with her, but we couldn’t sort of nail it down,” Boylan said.

That’s because Reyes has one of the most misdiagnosed forms of dementia – early-onset frontal temporal dementia, typically striking between the ages of 40 and 65.

Reyes is 60.

It can lead to a deterioration in the brain. In short, the temporal lobes shrink, changing behavior, personality and making it tougher to understand even simple things. But Reyes is a fighter.

“Right now, since I’ve been diagnosed, well my life is different, but I’m doing most of the things I’ve done before,” she said.

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That means going to San Francisco Giants games, taking long walks and spending time with family. It also includes making sure people are aware Alzheimer’s and dementia don’t just strike the old.

“You know, it’s just something you don’t expect and you just constantly adjust and just try to navigate it and learn as you go,” Reyes said.

She is navigating her tough new road thanks to the Northern California Alzheimer’s Association.

“It’s just good for me to keep my brain going and they’re just always trying to help you,” Reyes said.

She’s in a support group – virtual, for now. But for this family – like so many others – now is all that matters. Tomorrow is too uncertain to think about. The focus is on finding a cure.

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If you’d like to donate to the Northern California Alzheimer’s Association, go here.