The toll of ALS

It seems that every month, an organization that represents a particular disease or health condition makes an effort to raise awareness and funds to support their mission.

Events are planned. Canvassers hit the streets. Media campaigns are launched. And everyone hopes the public will open up their hearts and wallets to help out.

It can sometimes seem overwhelming to people, with several months of the year designated as periods of time to focus on any one disease. Each cause is of course worthy in and of itself, and there’s no doubt all deserve financial support. And in a perfect world, all would have the resources they need to pour funding into the latest research and a range of support services for those impacted.

This month, a walk for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is planned for June 18 in Red Deer. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the legendary baseball player who developed it in the late 1930s, it’s now termed ALS.

The condition wasn’t as clearly understood back then, but currently ALS is described as a fatal neurodegenerative disease.

As Gehrig’s debilitation became worse (he stumbled over curbs, fumbled with the baseball, and even slipped and fell while running bases), his wife Eleanor called the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The couple arrived there in June of 1939 and after six days of testing, the diagnosis was made on June 19 – Lou Gehrig’s 36th birthday.

The prognosis was grim: rapidly increasing paralysis, difficulty in swallowing and speaking and a life expectancy of less than three years, although there would be no impairment of mental functions. That is no doubt one of the most cruel characteristics of this disease. The condition has been described as being trapped inside one’s body. Watching and observing the world around you while your body shuts down.

People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord.

ALS has no known cure or effective treatment yet. For every person diagnosed, a person living with ALS dies. About 2,500 – 3,000 Canadians currently live with this disease.

In spite of initially being named after a sports celebrity, the disease hasn’t seemed to capture the level of familiarity with the public that other illnesses have. Or, people may have heard about Lou Gehrig but have little knowledge about the illness itself.

It’s certainly time to change that. Local folks representing the ALS Society hope that with increasing numbers of events throughout the year there are plenty of opportunities to bolster awareness. Hopefully, the public will take note and sign on to support those afflicted by such a cruel disease.

Just Posted

Olympic sportscaster Brian Williams says IOC too lenient on Russians

Williams was in Red Deer for a speech for Farm Credit Canada

A 37-year-old Red Deer man arrested for impaired driving

Man sustained serious injuries in two-vehicle collision

Red Deer RCMP investigate Fairview home invasion

RCMP believe it was a targeted home invasion, targeting wrong residence

Red Deer Big Brothers and Big Sisters receives $9,000 to help children

Funds go to matching an adult with a child, providing them with training and support

Tyler Steenbergen looking to centre a line for Team Canada

Sylvan Lake’s Steenbergen invited to try out for Canada’s National Junior Team

Troubled Monk releases new spirit

Troubled Spirit vodka was introduced in early December

FCC votes along party lines to end ‘net neutrality’

Move rolls back restrictions that keep big providers from blocking services they don’t like

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

Disney buying part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Woman charged after altercation injured baby in Toronto

Charges have been laid after a four-month-old baby girl was critically injured in Toronto

Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil announces retirement

Veteran Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil spent 15 seasons with the NHL team

Trudeau’s office confirms staffer being probed over allegations

PMO confirms staffer being probed over allegations of reported “inappropriate behaviour.”

Police kill gunman north of Toronto

Police shot and killed a gunman during a hostage situation at a bank north of Toronto

Most Read