Recently everyone has been going crazy over this Ice Bucket Challenge started by Peter Frates. Peter is “A former Boston College baseball player, Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. On July 31 of this year, he challenged some friends and celebrities (including NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan) to take the ice bucket challenge to ‘strike out ALS.’” By Slate.com
While I haven’t done the challenge myself, I have been donating to this cause for years. I have noticed that people really don’t know what ALS is despite all the whoopla about it in the past couple weeks. Last weekend my friend wrote her mother’s story for a website she developing and asked me to edit it. I thought that this would be my way of honoring her mother, and explaining to you what ALS is and how it affects those touched by it.
Here is her story.
I was thrilled! No heart attack, no stroke, her lungs were healthy even though she was smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. All her blood tests were perfect as well. I never thought getting tested for everything and getting negative results could still be such bad news, but it was. Her slurred speech never went away, in fact it kept getting worst.
Finally, we were sent to a neurologist and a spinal tap was done. It was the worst day of my life when her doctor told me she has ALS disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that effects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Symptoms of ALS often include muscle weakness involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing, and breathing… all of which my mom experienced.
Her doctor told me there weren't any surgeries or any medication for this illness. She would continue to get worst until she could no longer breathe. At that moment I felt like I couldn't breathe, but I showed no emotion in front of my mom. I continued to think positively and remained strong for her. I was in denial. I told my entire family and our friends that she had a stroke and that she was getting better.
As months passed my family noticed she wasn't getting better and I eventually had to give them the bad news--she will never get better.
My mom was a great woman. She was funny. If you were in a room with her she would be the one in the center making everyone laugh. She was hard working. She worked two jobs as a single mother raising my sister and I while supporting her own siblings, and nieces and nephews in the Philippines. She was lovable. She had a heart as big as the World. She was the best chef I knew. We never had a party where our guest didn't leave without a full stomach. She was wise. She always taught me to follow my heart and choose what I feel is right. To always do my best, so that if all else fails I knew that I always did the best I could.
Since my mom was born on October 30th, 1948, every year in the month of October I've formed a group called "Remembering Paring" in memory of her birthday, and together we walk to help defeat ALS. I'm very fortunate to have such great support from friends and family who have joined me these past 4 years.
Let’s all continue to help Defeat ALS and support those who are going through the same journey my mom went through. Join my team and help donate! DEFEAT ALS! Together we can!
You will forever be in our hearts. "REMEMBERING PARING"