For the past decade, Kristine Lee has been progressively losing the ability to stand on her own. A wife and mother of two, Kristine has upper motor neuron predominant ALS, a form of the disease that typically progresses more slowly than others. A few weeks before her local WALK for ALS, she opened up about her daily struggles living with ALS, and shared what the WALK means to her and her team.

In 2012, Kristine fell inexplicably and broke her ankle. As someone who admits to having always had a propensity for losing her balance, she wasn’t too concerned at the time. However, within four months, she started developing drop foot, an abnormality in a person’s gait due to weakness in the muscles, and her symptoms became progressively worse.

Subsequent falls lead to a broken sternum, broken ribs, stitches and countless bruises, prompting Kristine to visit a neurologist. After receiving various diagnoses, such as hereditary spastic paraplegia and primary lateral sclerosis, her diagnosis of upper motor neuron predominant ALS was confirmed in July 2016.

Living with ALS has forced Kristine and her family to make some adjustments. For example, they had to move from their family home because she could no longer walk up and down the stairs. Everyday tasks such as getting dressed, taking a shower and getting in and out of bed now require helping hands, which Kristine is fortunate to have.

“My husband does everything for me,” she says fondly, “and my children are huge supports for us both. I love my dear family and friends for all the support they give me.”

Although she is progressively losing her abilities bit by bit, Kristine is doing her part to cope with the realities of her diagnosis. For example, she has participated in several clinical trials and is currently recording her voice so that she will have a digital version of it when she can no longer speak.
And although she cannot stand on her own, Kristine will be participating in her local WALK for ALS for the second year in a row this September, with the help of her team and her wheelchair.

“I’ve been loaned lots of equipment from ALS Canada during the various stages I’ve gone through,” she recalls. “For example, a scooter, several bath transfer chairs, a transport chair, a tilting bath/commode chair, a hospital bed, a mattress, and most recently a Hoyer lift.”

Last year, Team KLee collectively raised $11,000 and achieved top fundraiser status for their local WALK. Kristine believes that the most important thing about the WALK for ALS is the awareness it brings to the disease: the more awareness there is, the more proceeds are raised for research and support services to help people like her.

 

Team KLee’s reach extends far beyond their local community. While Kristine and her team were WALKing here in Canada last year, her niece was organizing a WALK with an orphanage in Tanzania. All around the world, Team KLee is promoting awareness and solidarity for those living with ALS.

“I’m astounded how many researchers are involved in investigating so many aspects [of the disease],” says Kristine. “I believe Canadian ALS researchers are a cohesive group, sharing information amongst each other, and investigating therapies to stop or really slow progression.”

 

This year, Kristine’s WALK for ALS team is hoping to raise $12,000 for the cause.

 

 

To learn more about the WALK for ALS and find an event in your area, please visit www.walkforals.ca. Donations are being accepted until December 31, 2017.

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