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.