Emma Heming Willis has been a touchstone for fans of her husband, Bruce Willis, during his battle with frontotemporal dementia, and she appeared on the Today show Monday to give an update.
This week has been designated FTD Awareness Week, which prompted the appearance alongside Susan Dickinson, the CEO of The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.
There is no cure for Willis’ FTD, which Heming Willis revealed in February. To co-host Hoda Kotb, Heming Willis said “it’s hard to know” if the Die Hard star is aware of the condition, which forced him to retire from acting.
“What I’m learning is that dementia is hard. It’s hard on the person diagnosed. It’s also hard on the family,” Emma expressed. “And that is no different for Bruce, or myself, or our girls. When they say that this is a family disease, it really is.”
On how she explained the situation to her and Bruce’s two daughters, Mabel Ray, 11, and Evelyn Penn, 8, Emma said, “We’re a very honest and open household, and the most important thing is to say what the disease was, explain what the disease is … from a medical standpoint.”
She added, “I don’t want there to be any shame or stigma attached to their dad’s diagnosis.”
In February, the family revealed Willis had been diagnosed with the “cruel” disease, which can affect speech and behavior, as well as cause movement problems and even issues with swallowing.
“Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” they said at the time.
To Today, Emma reiterated that, calling the diagnosis “a blessing and a curse.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.