Friday, July 12, 2013

Sad For a Friend

A friend lost her son this week and I feel so sorry for her.  He died of Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), he picked the day to let go and he left us on Monday July 8.  We met Robert and his family in Turkey where his father and Mac were stationed.  We became fast friends and through the years though time and distance have separated us we've stayed in touch.
We have met up with our friends from time to time, but not with their children, so in my memory Robert will eternally be the chubby cheeked boy who was so full of energy, interested in computers, scouting and life itself.
He grew up and followed in his father's footsteps and joined the military where he served in Iraq, and that's where it all began.  Coming back from overseas he worked with the Wounded Warrior Program, but noticed that things were not right and began seeing doctors who diagnosed ALM.
We were shocked when they told us 2 years ago about the diagnosis and even more shocked that others in his military unit had the same diagnosis.
I did some research and discovered that serving in the military, particularly after the Gulf War makes you more than twice as likely as a civilian to suffer from this illness.  In 2008 the military acknowledged this problem and listed AML as a military connected disease and makes veterans eligible for treatment and benefits.
Robert was only 36 and leaves behind a wife, 2 children, a sister and 2 grieving parents.
My heart goes out to them, to bury your child has to be the most heart breaking thing to happen to a parent.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, I am sorry for your friend's loss. I did not know that the Lou Gehrig's disease has been linked to those serving in Iraq. That is so incredibly sad. You might think that once these men and women get home, they will be okay and then, this happens. My heart goes out to that young man's family.

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  2. My father died from this disease (called MND, Motor Neurone Disease, in the UK) in 2011. He had a very slowly progressing form of the disease. Having been diagnosed when he was 60 he lived another 16 years but oh, what a dreadful disease it is. At least my dad had lived to a reasonable age when he died - the men who are typically struck down by this are young and the disease can be so aggressive.
    My thoughts go out to you and your friend and their family. A terrible loss.

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