June is National ALS Month
June 08, 2021
Ottawa Journal Week of June 08 – June 12, 2021
David Tilson, Q.C., MP

June is national ALS awareness month in Canada. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gherig’s disease is a devastating neurodegenerative disease for which there is no known cure or effective treatment. ALS, as a neurodegenerative disease, causes nerve cells to die, thereby leaving 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 individuals 55-75 years of age, with the lifetime chance of developing ALS approximately 1 in 2000. Unfortunately, the incidence of the disease is increasing proportionally to Canada’s aging demographic, as is true of other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. According to the World Health Organization, neurodegenerative diseases are predicted to surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040. Currently, ALS claims the lives of two to three Canadians each day, including the life of my father who succumbed to ALS a number of years ago. Since my personal encounter with the terrible disease I introduced a private members bill to have June officially designated as national ALS month.

Due to the shocking number of unknowns surrounding ALS in terms of cause and cure, it is clear that we must join together as Canadians and combat this and other debilitating neurodegenerative illnesses throughout the month of June and beyond. For this reason I re-introduced my private members bill on February 26, 2021 to officially designate June as ALS month throughout Canada. It is my hope that the bill will serve to raise awareness and support for the many ongoing ALS research initiatives.

Until a cure is found I encourage all Canadians to take advantage of the wonderful weather June offers and participate in one of the many outdoor ALS fundraising events hosted by the ALS society of Canada. There are a number of “walk for ALS” events planned throughout June, right across the country. There will be walks held in Alliston, Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga and Hamilton. For more information on these wonderful events, or ALS in general, please visit the ALS society of Canada’s webpage at www.ALS.ca. I remain confident that together we will conquer ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases like it.
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