Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is one of those subjects that until recently would get a puzzled look. Few people had heard of the disease. Fortunately, this started to change with the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the success of the movie, The Theory of Everything. ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects motor neurons carrying messages to the muscles. Eventually the person with ALS loses their ability to move, talk, swallow, and eventually breathe. Currently, there are no effective treatments for the disease and death typically occurs within two to five years of initial diagnosis. I lost both an uncle and a dear friend (their photos are shown above) to this dreadful disease, and in my role as a psychologist have provided services to ALS patients and their families. I am keenly aware of the way a diagnosis with ALS shatters the lives of individuals. ALS is emotionally and financially devastating to patients and families. Over a relatively short period of time, the ALS patient becomes trapped in their body, unable to make muscles that once worked well move, or even to express their needs. They watch their progressive decline. Can you imagine the horror of that! Mobility and self-care losses result in the need for increasing levels of support. It is estimated that the cost for equipment, tube feeding supplies, etc. is about $140,000 over the course of the illness and the cost of caregiving services can be 10 times that, if required. Families struggle to meet the increasing needs of their loved one and the emotional consequences of watching a once vibrant partner/ parent/sibling struggle is exceedingly difficult. ALSBC helps by providing needed services such as wheelchairs, chair lifts, speech assistance devices, psychological counselling services, assistance with transportation, camps for the children of ALS patients, etc. Having seen the impact of ALS on the lives of individuals, both personally and professionally, I am running the half marathon in Vancouver in May to raise money for this worthy cause. Please donate what you can; every little bit helps. Thank you.
P.S. I included my picture in front of the Great Wall as this remarkable feat of architechture is a testament to what people can achieve - it reminds me that together, we can make a difference and ultimately beat ALS!