The ALS Association

Mom Taught Us the Most Important Lesson of All

Kristen T. Warwick, Rhode Island

On September 25, 2012, my mother, Shirley Otero, was officially diagnosed with ALS. It all began earlier that year when she started to complain about weakness in her left hand. She saw many doctors regarding this and was then diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. On May 16, 2012, she had the carpal tunnel surgery to correct the problem. From that date forward, it was a downward spiral. My mother never regained use of her left hand and slowly lost the use of her left arm completely. Around July/August of that same year, she started to notice she was losing her balance and becoming tired much easier. After what seemed like hundreds of appointments with several neurologists and the possibility of MS it was determined it was much more serious, and we made an appointment with a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. It was here that she was officially diagnosed with ALS. I did not know much about the disease at that time, but I saw enough changes in my mom over the past several months that I knew her body was slowly fighting against her. No matter how much a person wants to live and how much a person has in their life, when faced with ALS you are reminded that you are only in control of your life as much as your body will allow you to be. The disease took over my mother's life and body quickly. Within months she was wheelchair bound and slowly she lost her ability to speak. During this battle, my brother gave my mother the greatest source of strength to keep fighting. Him and his wife were expecting their first child, my mother's first grandbaby. I honestly feel like my mother held on to meet my niece and to give my brother that last gift of holding his daughter. Three weeks after my mother met her granddaughter, she became my niece's guardian angel on July 10, 2013 after a 10 month battle with ALS. This disease took the woman that spent the last 33 years raising my brothers and me. During these 10 months, she taught us the most important lesson of all. That family is most important in life and that strength comes from family. My hope is that someday soon, other families will have their prayers answered, and a cure will be found for this awful disease. I hope no others experience the slow torture emotionally and physically that ALS takes on individuals and their loved ones. The disease does not end when the person that was diagnosed with it passes. The disease lives on with the friends and family of the person that passed. Each day since my mom has passed, ALS is still in my life. Physically I may not feel it, but it will forever be part of my life. Every day I grieve for what the disease has taken from my life and try to find comfort in knowing that I can try to help spread the word about the fight against ALS so others do not have to experience what my mom and family have experienced.

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