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. Continue reading “Me, You, and Lou” – A Letter from Someone Newly Diagnosed with ALS
This post, written by third year medical school student Jeremiah White, first appeared on Transforming Medical School, the student blog of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.
We’re nearing the two-year anniversary of that time when countless videos flooded your social media feed of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves—the Ice Bucket Challenge, it was called—all to raise awareness for a disease called ALS, otherwise known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may have even participated in the challenge, as my medical school did. I remember the afternoon prepping for it. My inner junior-high boy came out in full force, trying to scavenge around the house for the biggest “bucket” I could find. Because, of course, if I was going to do this, I needed to do it right: with as much freezing-cold water as I could somewhat reasonably dump over my head. I searched the house high and low. I needed something big. “We’ve got a large mixing bowl in the kitchen,” I thought. Bigger. “I could use that cleaning bucket under the sink.” BIG. GER. “The trash can. Perfect.” Yes, I emptied (and cleaned) my trash can and filled it all the way with ice and water. Even threw a little salt in there to make it super cold. I lined up with my colleagues, and one-by-one in wave-like fashion we proceeded to pour the contents of our buckets over ourselves. Continue reading A Different Kind of Ice Bucket Challenge
Kevin Gosnell, founder of ALS ONE, passed away on Monday because of complications from the disease. Gosnell was diagnosed with ALS in spring 2015 and immediately put his business acumen and CEO leadership skills to work, convening the best minds in the ALS community. He founded ALS ONE in January 2016 and brought together leading neurology experts and care specialists from Massachusetts in partnership to leverage their institutions’ strengths to expedite progress toward finding a treatment for ALS within the next four years. Continue reading ALS Entrepreneur Kevin Gosnell Passes Away Leaving Important Legacy in ALS ONE
This August, we’re sharing stories of the individual actions that add up to make a difference in the lives of people living with ALS. Today’s story comes from Nell Hardy, pictured above at the 2016 Walk to Defeat ALS in Manhattan with her three sons, Brendan (left), Connor (middle), and Emmet (right). Her fourth “son,” Rico, is perched on her lap, which is his favorite spot to spend every day. Nell and her family are also featured in our Every Drop Adds Up video, crossing the finish line together.
Every day adds up!
I’ve been partnered with ALS for eight years.
It is not a gentle companion.
The disease is progressive and exacting.
I haven’t eaten food or talked for five years.
I can’t laugh, sing, or scratch an itch.
But I think I am winning.
Somewhere between my first bout with pneumonia and the blood transfusion for low iron, I put down my weapons.
The disease was too cunning and huge for me to take on!
Instead, I practiced acceptance and hope.
As the disease whittles away at my 5′ frame, I gather my friends and family around me.
We believe, we are patient: there is a cure.
Life is too good to give up.
We want to hear from you, too! How would you fill in the blank? “Every ___________ adds up.” Tell us about your ALS journey and your commitment to advance the fight against ALS. Tag your answer on social media with #EveryDropAddsUp or send us a blog post!
One of the many blessings of the Ice Bucket Challenge craze that swept the globe in 2014 was that it made people aware of ALS, a brutal disease that robs a person of his or her ability to walk, talk, and eventually, breathe. Prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge, most people only knew about ALS if a friend or family member had been diagnosed with it.
The great news is that those donations are already having an impact on the research. The ALS Association spent some of the Ice Bucket Challenge donations on Project MinE, which just announced on Monday that it had discovered a new ALS gene, one that is among the most common among people who have familial ALS.
While the Ice Bucket Challenge raised great awareness about ALS and the need for greater funding for research and care services, many people still don’t know what exactly ALS is or how it affects a person. Fortunately, former NFL player Steve Gleason has documented his journey and is sharing it in a new documentary that opens this weekend. The Daily Beast has called it “the most powerful, poignant documentary of the year.” Continue reading Ice Bucket Challenge Made World Aware of ALS, “Gleason” Brings it Home
The son of an art educator, Konnor (@KonnorSchmaltz) lost his mom to ALS a year ago this July. She fought until the very end, and through her family found strength to last as long as she could have. There isn’t a day that goes by where he isn’t reminded of her and will forever cherish the moments they shared together.
“I consider myself the luckiest man in the world …”
Whether recited by fans of America’s Pastime or by Yankees followers, by those who look to it for strength fighting this horrendous disease now or by loved ones of those they’ve lost – the weight these words carry is unfathomable.
But, why? Why would a man who had everything taken away so quickly be so…positive? Was he referring to the four home runs he hit in a single game? Maybe it had something to do with his Triple Crown win in 1934. Did The Iron Horse and future Hall of Famer not understand what most of us here know would happen to him as time progressed? Continue reading The Legacy of Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech
My name is Denise Hatfield, and I have been married almost 39 years to the love of my life. We share two beautiful sons, and two amazing grandsons. Rick and I are each others rock, and when he was diagnosed with ALS, my world turned upside down. For 39 years he has been by my side. He has always provided for me. I can’t imagine life without him in it. We do everything together and I will fight this battle to the end and then some. Hoping in his lifetime and in others, I can make a difference.
My husband is a mechanic for big rigs. In January of 2015 he started noticing his hands getting weaker at work. By June he was dropping things.
We took him to the doctor thinking it was maybe carpal tunnel, but I noticed the muscle mass loss in him and the difference in his speech. So we went to a neurologist. He was diagnosed with ALS early, but progressed fast. By October he was out of work.
For six years, he had been building a ’57 Chevy from the frame up. It had been his ultimate dream since he was a kid. So after being off work he decided he had to get his car finished. He worked as much as he could, but got weaker by the day. Our two sons helped around the house, when not working to help him finish this project. We finally sent the car out for a paint job. My husband was still driving but getting weaker every day. Continue reading A Father’s Dream Comes True Despite ALS