May is ALS Awareness Month in the USA

by Richard McBride on Fri, 2015-05-22 05:00

Hooray, hooray! It's the first of May. Outside screwing starts today!

Richard McBride

I learned that rude bit of doggerel from my favourite aunt, many years ago when both of us were much younger. While the verse may be a bit naughty, the sentiment is on the mark. For most of us in Canada, May represents the unofficial end of winter. May, and the Stanley Cup playoffs. May is when picnics can take place without fear of snow, mostly. May is when canoeing and hiking in the woods can happen in above freezing temperatures, mostly. May is when the rain eases off and the sun starts to take hold of the ground around us, mostly. May is when the ice is off the lake and the boat goes back in the water, mostly. May is mostly a good month.

For me, May has come to mean something else altogether of late. It is ALS Awareness Month in the U.S., and June is ALS Awareness Month here in Canada. My life has changed dramatically because of ALS, a disease I had only a vague awareness of before it became my constant companion. I am aware of ALS every moment of every day of every month of the year. Yet, like myself, there are a great many people out there who have no idea what this disease is, or what it does. They are simply unaware, just as I was.

The idea of a whole month dedicated to ALS Awareness is a start. But we need more than that. The problem is, of course, that there are a great many other causes which need our attention, not just ALS, not just my particular disease. The only real defense I have in wanting even more awareness for ALS is that it is a "neuro" disease, a disease associated with nerve and brain cells. This class of illness, a group which includes things like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS and a host of other lesser known candidates, is rapidly taking over as we battle back the tide of cancer and heart disease. Neuro diseases are rapidly becoming a forefront illness, a set of diseases which all share a common basis, and about which we know so little.

We will never defeat cancer or heart disease completely, or at least I don't think we will. We might in some science fiction future, but with our current technology and medications, cancer and heart disease are with us for a while to come. But we know a whole lot more about them than we do about neuro diseases. We study them a lot more. We invest in them a lot more.

I'm not asking for equal time. We need to be practical about this. At the same time we need to understand that more and more of us will die from neurological disorders as we get better at treating cancer and heart disease. It's simply time for us to be more aware of things like ALS, not just for one month, but for the whole year.

The blog was posted originally on May 1, 2015.

To learn more about Richard McBride and his journey with ALS, read his story that is currently running as part of MDA's ALS Awareness Month campaign.

About the Author

Born in Victoria, British Columbia, far too long ago to make a difference here, Richard McBride was, up until recently, a lifelong resident of the Vancouver and Fraser Valley region of Canada's most western province. McBride has had the joy of a very diverse career ranging from his first career as a stockbroker to training consultant and technology consultant to project manager.

Major changes in his life before his diagnosis of ALS meant his relocation to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was there that he received the diagnosis in November 2012. McBride continues to share his life and experiences both through his blog titled Richard is Living with ALS and through a tremendous group of friends, support specialists, and most importantly, with his four children and three grandchildren, with a fourth on the way.

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