"Once you hear the words 'I've been diagnosed with ALS' come out of a family member's mouth, you don't know how to respond. When my grandmother was diagnosed in the summer of 2014, it was a learning process not only for me, but for the rest of my family on what this horrific illness truly entailed.
My grandma has always been my best friend. She was one of the kindest women you ever had the opportunity of meeting and was such an extraordinary person. From donating much of her time to helping others to always putting a smile on anyone’s face, I aspired to be just like her when I was older. Growing up, she was always by my side, and we did everything together, which continued up until I left for college. So when I found out she was diagnosed with ALS the summer going into my senior year of high school, my world stopped. I realized I couldn't take our time for granted anymore.
I would visit her a couple times a week my senior year. The time we spent together meant the world to me, especially when I knew that one day, I would no longer be able to. Her speech started slurring, and at times, it was difficult to understand what she was saying. I made sure to call her every night and cherish her voice because one day, I would never hear it again.
Months passed, and her disability became worse. She received an electronic communication device and used it quite often because no one could understand simple words that came out of her mouth. Our phone calls soon turned to emails.
The weeks leading up until my departure to college, I made sure I saw her almost every other day. The final day eventually came to say goodbye to her. This was one of the hardest goodbyes I had ever had to make; I didn't know if it was going to be the last. I would email her every day in college, and I loved to read the responses she sent back.
I came to visit her a couple weekends in college, and during the second week in October, she was at her worst. My grandma passed, surrounded by her family, two weeks later in the hospital. In a way, I was relieved. She was put through so much pain and suffering, it was unfair. To this day, I still call ALS the devil. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. I can say that I did learn a lot from it, though. I learned that even when the worst thing that can ever happen to you becomes a reality, you must stay positive, just like my grandma did.
Every day, no matter how hard it was to stay in a wheelchair and talk solely by a device, she had a smile on her face. People called her “Sunshine,” and it was quite obvious why. She never gave up, and she never pitied herself. She also didn’t pronounce her diagnosis as her death sentence or have it define who she was. It's because of her that I've learned to appreciate life more and to never take anything for granted.”
To read Breanna’s complete blog post, please visit https://www.theodysseyonline.com/als-the-devils-disease.