Through Sickness and Health: A Couple’s Love Perseveres in the Face of ALS

At home with Jeff and Darlene Sutherland

This article was originally published on the blog of the ALS Society of Canada on November 15, 2019, with kind thanks for their permission to reuse it.

The first thing one notices upon walking into Jeff and Darlene’s airy bungalow is the feeling of warmth and love that reaches into every corner: it’s present in the family photos that adorn the walls and the tasteful trinkets carrying messages of friendship and hope. And it’s a stark contrast to the second thing that’s evident: the soft, motorized whir of the breathing machine that keeps Jeff alive. It’s a constant reminder of the thin line between life and death – a line with which Jeff and Darlene are all too familiar.

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Keep the Bus Moving: Kerry Goode’s Story

After a lifetime of participating in and leading two-a-day practice sessions, as a running back at the University of Alabama and the NFL, and later becoming a strength and conditioning coach in the NFL, Kerry Goode knew something was wrong when he couldn’t pick up a box.

“It only had a few things in it, so it really wasn’t that heavy, and I was struggling really hard to pick that box up. And so that made me get in the car and go to the doctor to see what’s going on,” Goode said.

Six months later, he was diagnosed with ALS.

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"We Won't Let ALS Steal Our Joy"

By Erika Gram,
ALS caregiver & daughter

Our home has always been filled with family, friends, and joyful celebration during the holiday season. It’s a time to connect with loved ones and create lasting memories.

After my dad was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2017, creating holiday memories became especially important for our family. The average life expectancy for someone with this disease is 2 to 5 years, so we understand that every moment we spend together is precious.

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How Gardening is Part of Caregiving: Bill Dodge’s Story

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and honor the tremendous contributions of family caregivers. Throughout the month we have been sharing stories of caregivers in the ALS community. Caregiving is a full-time job, and many caregivers also maintain full time jobs while dealing with the financial and emotional stress that comes with being a caregiver. 

Bill Dodge, who served as a caregiver to his wife, Laura until her ALS journey ended earlier this year, remains a passionate advocate for ALS funding and public policies. We sat down to talk to him about why he continues to fight earlier this year.

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Caregiver Opens Up About ALS and the Holidays

Jen LeVasseur’s caregiver journey began while she was still a newlywed. Her husband, Noel, was diagnosed with ALS just 17 months after their wedding. 

Noel has two daughters from a previous marriage, Jen two sons. (They embrace the Brady Bunch, blended family analogy.)

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Bride-to-be Caregiver Reframes Future with a Fiancé Living with ALS

Lynn Hogan became a caregiver early in her relationship her fiancé, Steve Ziegler.

“On our first date we went out and he was sitting next to me and he said, ‘You might notice — don’t get weirded out or anything — but you might notice some twitching, weird stuff going on with my arms. We don’t know what it is yet. But one of the things it could be is ALS,’” she recalled. 

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Anthony Vick: “Faith Over Fear”

Anthony Vick spent 16 years serving his country in the Army and Air Force Reserves, including 10 years in the civil service. Vick says he was lucky to be able to serve his country, service that came to an end in 2017 when he was diagnosed with ALS. 

“It was very slow to come about. It took about two years, probably 50 doctor visits, two surgeries and was set up to have a third surgery on my spine, and the week before I went in, my doctor referred me to another neurologist,” Vick says.

It was during that visit to the neurologist that Vick first learned that his symptoms might be related to ALS. 

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