Megan Wilkerson lost her father, Dr. Walter Root, to ALS earlier this year. Her family’s story was recently profiled in a feature article in the San Antonio Express-News. In her #EveryDropAddsUp story below, Megan describes the value of the memories she was able to make with her father and family after his diagnosis.
My dad lost his battle to ALS on May 31, 2016. I had known this day would come since his diagnosis on January 5, 2015. We had our suspicions something “bad” was happening with Dad, but ALS was something that happened to ‘other people,’ not us. I had become aware of the disease due to the Ice Bucket Challenge in Summer ’14, but had NO idea what would lie ahead.
Our family decided to embrace the diagnosis and enjoy our lives together. Since there is no cure or effective treatment for ALS, we knew the likely hood of him being “cured” was dismal. My dad chose to live with his disease, even though we lost him a little each day. He traveled, he loved, he laughed, he lived. I can honestly say (with many tears) he lived 100 years in his 59.
We spent thousands of dollars over the 17 months of his illness making memories that I will truly cherish with my family forever. When he had pneumonia, I frantically flew out (from California to Texas) and left my career and family behind to be by my dad’s side while he was in ICU. This was one of my favorite memories because even though we were terrified of the outcome, we laughed more than we cried. He couldn’t talk, but we had more meaningful conversations that week than we had ever had before. I was allowed the opportunity to truly care for him. I slept on a plastic couch in gloves and a gown for a week, only going to my parents to shower and change. His face would light up when I would come back. Every morning I would go get coffee and oatmeal from the cafeteria and we would watch the (bad) news together. It wasn’t much, but it is one of my favorite memories. He was a functioning quadriplegic, with a tracheostomy, on bipap, eating from a feeding tube – but he was happy.
Although my story doesn’t have a happy ending, it had some amazing moments that, if my dad was not terminally ill, may not have happened. Our family was given the gift of time and memories. I encourage everyone to embrace the moment, make memories and live like you’re dying. Life is so much better when you appreciate every moment!
I vow to spread awareness and hope to find a cure. Nobody should have to watch their loved one suffer from such an awful disease with little hope.
Each contribution to the fight against ALS – no matter how seemingly large or small – adds up. Please consider making a donation this August, and every August, until we have a cure. Then, tell your friends why the fight against ALS matters to you and encourage them to make a contribution, too!