June is ALS Month
June 02, 2021
June is ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a devastating disease that affects approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians. An estimated two to three Canadians die of ALS each day, in Canada, making it the most common cause of neurological death. This is an important reason for all of us to do our part to raise awareness of ALS and to support efforts for research and support services during the month of June.

ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. Individuals living with ALS maintain their senses, as well as their intellect; however, they become progressively paralyzed due to the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The disease can strike anyone, both men and women, the young and old, but is most commonly diagnosed in middle and late adulthood. Furthermore, ALS can strike all ethnic and socio-economic groups.

Approximately 80 per cent of individuals diagnosed with ALS will die within two to five years of diagnosis, leaving them unable to breathe or swallow. While some individuals live longer with the disease, others die within a few short months. It is also a disease that affects the entire family. ALS patients require costly equipment and care and 90 per cent of the burden of care falls upon the shoulders of family members. Therefore, ALS is a drain on the physical, emotional, and financial resources of caregivers, as well as those suffering with the disease.

I have been personally affected by this disease as my father succumbed to ALS a number of years ago and in 2005, I introduced a private member's bill that would ensure that June of every year in Canada would be known as ALS month.

The cause of ALS is unknown and there isn’t an effective treatment and no known cure, which underscores the importance of increasing awareness of this disease across Canada. Raising awareness of ALS is a key program of the ALS Society of Canada and its Provincial Societies.

During the month of June, ALS Canada and the Provincial Societies work together to raise awareness of ALS and to raise funds for research and support services. We can all do our part to assist these efforts by purchasing a cornflower, which is the emblem of the ALS Society (because it is the international flower of hope for the disease). Locally, individuals and groups can participate in a wide range of activities to raise awareness in their communities. For more information on the many activities and fundraising events of the ALS Society of Canada, please visit their website at www.als.ca.

If we all do our part, by even just wearing a blue cornflower, we can increase research and funds to support those who suffer from this devastating disease.

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