Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Living with ALS presents many new challenges, both for the affected person and for family and friends.
You will naturally have many worries about the disabilities that come with the disease. How long you will be able to care for your family and home, hold your job, and continue the friendships
and activities you enjoy. You worry about how your family will cope with the demands of your care. You wonder how they will manage when you are no longer able to contribute. You may feel anxious
Your loved ones also feel anxious about your death and how much they will miss you. They wonder how they will care for you through your illness. Money is almost always a concern.
Many people in this situation feel anxious and depressed, at least sometimes. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.
For both you and your caregivers, talking about feelings and concerns may help.
Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don't wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about
your concerns, let them know.
Some people don't want to "burden" their loved ones, or prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful
if you want to discuss your feelings and concerns about having ALS. Your primary care provider or neurologist should be able to recommend
You or your family members may be helped profoundly by talking to other people who have the disease or to their family members. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same
experience can be remarkably reassuring. This is why support groups exist. Support groups offer the opportunity for people whose lives are affected by ALS to get together, whether in person, on the
telephone, or on the Internet.
Because ALS is relatively rare, finding a support group in your area may be difficult, unless you live near a large medical center with many medical specialists. There are groups on the
Internet that can help you find the support you need.
For more information about support groups, contact these agencies:
ALS Association (ALSA) (800) 782-4747 or (818) 880-9007
Les Turner ALS Foundation - (888) ALS-1107 or (847) 679-3311
Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving - (800) 445-8106