Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw’s unexpected diagnosis of ALS doesn’t stop him from finding hope and advocating on behalf of those faced with ALS. He has also been an incredible ally of The ALS Association in fighting this disease. Below, we’ve included a Q/A with Tim, which includes information about his new book, “Blitz Your Life.” The story, according to its author, is about “overcoming fear and living life with a purpose.”
After over a year in the making, the ALS Assistive Technology Challenge came to its culmination at the finale event during the ALS/MND International Alliance Meeting in Dublin. All five finalist teams came together to show off their prototypes to our esteemed judging team. The meeting participants living with ALS also had a chance to try out each new technology. Every finalist had an innovative idea – from brain computer interface technology to voice message banking – to help people living with ALS communicate with ease. This is extremely important to their quality of life and why the Challenge was started in the first place. Here is a photo summary of this exciting event, ending with the winners.
Deborah Silver, an accomplished vocalist and performer, has been active in the fight against ALS since 2009, when her sister was diagnosed with the disease.
My sister, Marjie Block, was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. I was by her side visiting doctor after doctor hoping to get any diagnosis other than ALS. We even prayed for Lyme Disease….anything but ALS! Ultimately, this unfortunate diagnosis stayed the same and Marjie’s courageous battle began.
As our family rallied behind her, we became determined to win this seemingly unwinnable ordeal and have committed ourselves to fighting alongside all ALS patients. My children have launched several projects to raise funds for a cure including my daughter’s website, hopeheARTbyMadison.com, so far raising over $100,000. Having always felt there is a reason for everything, perhaps this disease ended up in our family because we simply will not rest until ALS is eradicated. This is why I am always trying to come up with ideas of how to raise even more funds for a cure.
Throughout this process, I have met some of the most impressive and special people in the world who also happen to be battling ALS. My heart goes out to everyone and their families struggling with this horrendous disease.
Jordan Jhaveri is part of a family living with ALS. She was eleven when her dad, Akhil, was diagnosed in 2011. Here she gives her sixteen-year-old perspective that was recently posted on her dad’s blog recently.
As my dad’s health declines it’s gotten a lot harder to “keep on keepin’ on.” I’ve decided to share my perspective so that maybe other people can know they are not alone in their battles.
No one is truly “put together.” No one actually has everything “under control.” I am convinced that life is a big card game in which it is part chance, part strategy and planning, and we make up all the rules as we go. Even when someone seems to be completely untroubled, there is no way to know what happens behind closed doors.
The ALS Association is pleased to share the results of the 2016 Care Services Community Survey. Below we offer some background on the survey and highlight a few significant responses. We also provide information on how you can give additional feedback on The Association’s programs in September.
In July 2016, The ALS Association invited members of the ALS community (defined as people living with ALS, family members, and caregivers) to participate in a community care services survey. This survey included 15 questions and was shared via several of The Association’s communication channels. Nearly 800 members of the community responded.
Providing multiple opportunities for people living with ALS to comment on our work is vital, and the insights gained from this survey will be combined with the results of our ongoing series of Listening Tour meetings with the ALS community. We will use all of this information to inform strategic planning, help identify and prioritize program initiatives, focus on potential program improvements, and contribute data and information for advanced decision-making.
When asked what programs they have accessed through local ALS Association chapters, 52 percent responded that they have utilized an equipment loan closet. Forty percent visited a certified center or recognized clinic, 34 percent accessed a support program, and 31 percent received an education service from their chapter.
When asked which areas The Association should be devoting more care services resources to, more than half of respondents chose assistive technology (58 percent) and home health benefits (52 percent). Thirty-nine percent chose programs that support increased access to care and services, while 36 percent wanted more resources related to Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans insurance programs.
Thirteen percent of respondents also indicated that finances, costs, and/or insurances make up the greatest challenge that they and their family face. Other significant challenges include accessing home health benefits (10 percent) and equipment loans (nine percent).
For more information about the survey, including responses for all questions, read the full report.
Another Opportunity for Feedback
Did you miss the chance to take the Care Services survey? We’re providing another opportunity for the ALS community to give feedback during our second “virtual listening tour” on September 27, 2016 from 1-3 p.m. EDT. Register here!
Jeanna Grammer lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is employed at a non-profit Hospice and feels so blessed in making a difference! Her true passion is being a voice for people with ALS by volunteering with her local ALS Association chapter and writing letters in her local newspaper.
My mom was diagnosed with ALS in May 2011. She literally lost her speech within 6 weeks of slurring her words. She was semi-retired but enjoyed her job and co-workers, so she still worked part time at a hospital as an insurance biller. Bravery!
Unfortunately, she had to retire just two months later because she was unable to talk to insurance companies on the phone. She retired with over 25 years and the retirement celebration was fit for a queen! She wasn’t sad that day; she loved seeing all her friends, co-workers and family. She never lost her loud Italian laugh and it was heard many times at the celebration. Bravery!
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.
Every Thought Counts
Picture, for a moment, that you’re in a straitjacket. You can’t move any limb to free yourself. All day and night long.
That’s how I imagine my younger sister Nell has felt over the past seven years as she battles the biggest foe of her life: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.
I think of Nell when I do the simplest of things that are out of reach for her.
Julie Fitzpatrick’s grandmother (above left) died of ALS and Julie (above right) has recently been diagnosed with Primary Lateral Sclerosis. Julie lives in Reston, Virginia and is a scientist, specializing in human health risk assessment, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
ALS changes countless lives. It is nearly impossible to count every person. It is not just the people with ALS, but everyone they touch and everyone who touches them and on down the line.
From the time I was a small girl I knew that my grandmother, Mildred Anderson, died from complications resulting from ALS. She died in February 1960, when my mother was preparing to give birth to my older brother. One of the big regrets of my mother’s life is that her mother never got to meet her four children and see what wonderful people they became. It is not just every person that has ALS that adds up, it is all the people in their lives and those that come after them. It could be said that “Every Family Adds Up.”
Adam Smith, 37, was an overly active person until a mysterious, undiagnosed illness turned his life upside down. He saw multiple doctors until one realized the problem was not in his head, but very real. After a trip to the Mayo Clinic, Adam was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in May 2016. After his diagnosis, Adam sent the following letter to his friends and family. He is supported and loved by his wife, family, friends, and sweet Akita.
To point at a day on the calendar as the best and worst day of your life is a rare feat. On May 27, 1985, my wife was born – best day of my life. On May 27, 2016, I was told I’m dying – worst day of my life.
“You have Lou Gehrig’s Disease. There is no treatment, there is no cure. I’m sorry, Adam.”
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
May 27, 2016
As my doctor delicately explained that my body will slowly become paralyzed over the next 2-5 years until I can no longer take a breath, my thoughts drifted to my wife and our families. Turning 31 and being told your husband is dying is unimaginable. I could only think how every birthday for the rest of her life she will have a painful memory that will never fade over time. Thirty-one is too young to be told you’re going to be a widow. It’s too young for dreams to be crushed and vows to become impossible to achieve. Thirty-one is too young to be told you’re going to be taking care of your sick husband for the rest of his short life. Heartbreaking.