Submitted photo Qualicum Beach resident Murray Chantler, who was diagnosed with ALS 10 years ago, encourages Parksville Qualicum Beach residents to join the Walk to End ALS on June 9 in Parksville.

Join the Walk to End ALS on June 9

Walk is relatively short and suitable for all ages and those with mobility restrictions

It was with some trepidation that Qualicum Beach resident Murray Chantler went to his doctor 10 years ago with concerns about a strange, reoccurring problem with his right leg.

“Specifically, I was experiencing a sporadic, pronounced limp in that leg, usually after sitting for a period of time,” Chantler said. “The limp would disappear after a while, but then sporadically reappear again; the most disturbing aspect was that it was happening more and more often and with an increased intensity and duration.”

At the time Chantler was a 56-year-old carpenter in good physical shape and excellent health who lived a very active lifestyle and played a number of sports. The visit to his doctor precipitated a multitude of tests over the next year; essentially this amounted to ruling out various conditions and diseases as a diagnosis of ALS. Meanwhile, Chantler’s symptoms worsened to the point that the limp in his leg eventually became a permanent impediment to his mobility.

“After seeing two neurologists, I was referred to the ALS Clinic in Vancouver where in April 2010 I was diagnosed with a rare sub-variant of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) named Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS),” Chantler said. “By the time I received this definitive diagnosis my condition had deteriorated to the point that I had been forced to quit working and now required the use of a walker. My life had dramatically changed course and I struggled to deal with the physical and emotional ramifications of this disease.”

Chantler is now confined to either a lift chair or a wheelchair and requires almost full time care including assistance with almost every aspect of his daily life, yet he remains thankful that the rate of progressive degeneration has slowed down.

“My speech has been affected, but I can still eat; albeit with cautious mindfulness and the ever present danger of choking,” he said. “My dexterity, mobility, and range of motion have been compromised to a huge extent and I cannot physically do about 90 per cent of what I used to do before this disease entered my life.”

Chantler said he is blessed to have the “love, devotion, and endless support” of his wife, Christina.

“My wife and I are both so extremely grateful for the multifaceted assistance of the ALS Society of BC; without whose help we would certainly be struggling financially in an effort to provide the necessary assistive equipment required for my needs,” Chantler said.

The ALS Society of BC also funds ALS patient support group meetings where patients and their families can feel free to talk about the disease with others who share commonality of experience.

“It is immensely beneficial to know that you are not alone in your battle with ALS and that there are pragmatic solutions to some of the challenges of living with this disease,” Chantler said.

All of the patient care services provided by the ALS Society of BC are funded in part by the annual fundraising “Walk to End ALS” events held in various communities each year. In addition, funds raised also help support collaborative Canadian research into finding effective treatments and ultimately a cure for ALS (60 per cent to patient services, 40 per cent to research). Last year there was more than $583,000 raised in BC by these community walks.

The Mid-Island Walk to End ALS takes place on Sunday, June 9 in Parksville at the Parksville Civic & Technology Centre.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the walk starts at 11 a.m. For more information, to register or to make a donation, go to walktoendals.ca; click on BC; click on Mid-Island.

— NEWS staff, submitted

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