B. Smith, the famed African-American restaurant owner, model, and designer who has been called the "black Martha Stewart," revealed to CBS News this week that she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
About four years ago, Smith — whose first name is Barbara — went to see a doctor because she noticed she was exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's, like repeating things over and over and struggling to answer questions, both problems that were becoming progressively worse over time.
Smith, now 64, saw Dr. Martin Goldstein and a group of doctors at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, where they did a scan and located an amyloid, a sticky protein in the brain that damages nerves and is present in patients with Alzheimer's.
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"It's everywhere," Goldstein said of the amyloid in Smith's brain scan.
Smith told CBS News that she was determined to maintain a positive outlook.
"I think the future's going to be fine," Smith, who has been married to her business partner Dan Gasby for 22 years, said to CBS News. "I'm going to do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help, too."
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes, according to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Smith started her multifaceted career as fashion model, blazing trails as one of the first African-American models to make the cover of Mademoiselle in July 1976. She has done commercials for Mercedes-Benz and has also served as the spokeswoman for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive, Oxy, and McCormick's Lawry seasoning products.
Smith played host for the nationally syndicated television show "B. Smith with Style," which airs on NBC local stations in 90 percent of American households, and has also appeared on "Good Morning America" and the "Today" show.
She opened her first restaurant in New York City in 1986 and eating establishments in Washington, D.C., Union Station and Long Island's Hampton village followed.
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