His four daughters and wife had to watch him go from a healthy and active father to a person who would get lose on his way to the grocery store.
A few months to live is all that doctors said her husband would have, and Danielle Gibson wanted to make sure Toby and their four beautiful daughters spent some quality time together.
In an interview with People, Danielle talked about how he was a healthy and active man who had a great memory. But his battle against Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), or the human form of mad cow disease began when he started getting lost even while doing everyday things like going to the grocery store. But as a father, Toby Gibson continued to be a great dad to their two sets of twin girls.
“He said, ‘My memory is gone. My short-term memory is gone,’ ” said Danielle as she spoke about her husband and when his memory issues started. “He would get lost going to the grocery store. He had a doctor’s appointment one day and it was right up the road from us … he never came home that night.” But that was just the beginning of it all. He eventually started getting completely disoriented as well.
It was probably one of the toughest things to hear for Danielle when she got a call from the police one day informing her that they found her husband was found at the airport, and unable to explain how he got there. “He would get so confused I would have to label the rooms in our home. We tried getting a diagnosis for months but no one could figure out what was going on,” wrote Danielle on her GoFundMe page.
The doctors initially thought it might be dementia. But as time passed, seeing her husband get paranoid and experience hallucinations made Danielle think that it could be something worse. After months of trying to understand what was going on, it was finally the doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee who were able to give him the diagnosis of CJD.
Tony eventually lost his job. And with no life insurance, Danielle was left with only questions about her husband’s treatment, how she’ll be able to raise their two sets of twin girls and still not lose hope despite everything that was going on. She wrote, “We just had our second set of twin girls and I'm left to raise them alone. This is a terrible nightmare I cannot wake up from.”
With four children to feed, Danielle would have always imagined raising a family with her husband by her side. She had never foreseen having to support their twins without him. “I have never been so devastated,” Danielle said in her interview before her husband passed away. “I couldn’t believe it. I never expected something like this, never even heard of it. They gave him a maximum of six months to a year. He’s not in good condition at all, but he’s still hanging on.”
It wasn’t just her husband that she has to stay strong for, but also her two sets of twins, aged 11 and 1. “My older kids, they hurt of it. My little babies, thank God they’re not old enough to really know,” said Danielle. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. I have to continue to fight for him and push on for my babies.”
Initially, Tony was on steroids but the doctors found that it was only worsening his health. Later, he was shifted into a facility, and although it was an hour away from the Gibson family’s home, Danielle still drove down a few times to be by her husband's side. She sometimes feds him, sang to him and tried to fill him with as much support as she can. In a Facebook post, she mentioned his favorite hymn was Amazing Grace, and even sang it to him.
The entire family tried not to lose hope until the end, but when the time came, Tony “went to his heavenly home,” wrote an update. “I would like to ask for prayers of strength and peace, especially for our daughters. Tony has always been so strong. He fought a damn good fight. Our hearts are broken but we take comfort in knowing this fight is over.”