rLet Them Eat Cake
Raleigh pharmacist Doug Bettenhausen died at age 50 in 2013 from
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). This is a rare, progressive neurodegen-erative
disorder sharing similarities with Parkinson’s disease, making it
hard to diagnose. MSA has no cure, no treatment. It affects both move-ment
and the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary action,
including blood pressure and digestion. Symptoms include fainting or
lightheadedness, motor function impairments, tremor, rigidity, difficulty
with speech, gait and eventual confinement to bed.
Bettenhausen, a Fayetteville native whose parents lived in Wilmington
for many years, was an athlete, a Tar Heel fan, and a medical-affairs vice
president for a pharmaceuticals company until his retirement for medical
He was also a man of God who happened to enjoy cake. His favorite
saying and how he lived his life came from the days he played football:
“You touch it, you catch it.”
His immediate family along with cousin Pam Howell from Wilmington
ate cake for breakfast to honor Bettehausen on his March birthday the
year following his death because he liked to eat his cake first thing, for
“It was a quirky thing; he was real athletic and then he eats cake for
breakfast,” says his widow, Sandra Bettenhausen.
She says her husband was notorious for exercising on his treadmill to
thwart to effects of cake for breakfast, but eat it he did.
Initially just a few friends and family ate cake on Bettenhausen’s birth-day.
But then Sandra put it on Facebook and she invited others to join
in, asking if they did to send pictures.
“When I opened my Facebook, I was floored. One picture after the
other popped up. There were all these pictures from everybody. I cried,”
The Eat Cake movement grew with each passing year as family and
friends on Facebook joined in. Soon people asked how they could donate.
There are two MSA advocacy groups: MSA Coalition and Defeat
MSA, a 501c3 public nonprofit charity established July 25, 2012.
In 2017, Sandra received a call from the head of Defeat MSA, who had
participated in the Eat Cake for Breakfast that year and asked if she’d be
willing to partner with defeat MSA. Sandra accepted and this year the
Eat Cake for Breakfast birthday event became far-reaching — across the
country, and in North Carolina extending to Surf City, Wallace, Warsaw,
Raleigh and Wilmington at Bangz Hair Salon, where Howell works.
Pam Howell at Bangz Hair Salon and Spa 3rd annual Multiple System Atrophy
(MSA) Eat Cake fundraiser March 9, 2019.
WBM june 2019