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Ice Bucket Challenge a 'miracle,' says ALS patient

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Sep 03, 2014 - 5:15 PM |
June Rumball was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. She said the popular Ice Bucket Challenge has been like a miracle, for the awareness and new funding it has brought to the debilitating disease. Photo by Jonathan Migneault

June Rumball was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. She said the popular Ice Bucket Challenge has been like a miracle, for the awareness and new funding it has brought to the debilitating disease. Photo by Jonathan Migneault

Social media campaign has brought widespread attention and funds to disease

When the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge put the debilitating neurodegenerative disorder to the forefront for the public, June Rumball said it was like a miracle.

Rumball was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 2009. Like many people diagnosed with the disease, it came as a complete shock.


During her 25-year career as a nurse, Rumball said she probably missed only five days of work due to illness. She was an active jogger, power walker and regularly trained with weights.

After she retired from nursing, Rumball went on to become a sales representative with Mary Kay Cosmetics, where she earned the company's greatest honour – the Go-Give Award for giving back without expecting anything in return.

Her first symptom was a dropped foot (a gait issue that caused her toes would drag along the ground as she walked), and since her diagnosis, the disease quickly progressed. She had to move her bed to her living room on her home's main floor, to make it more accessible.

Today, Rumball is confined to her chair, where she is attached to a respirator at all times. She has some movement on her hands, and can type on her laptop using a mouse and an on-screen keyboard.

She can also still talk, and for that she considers herself lucky.

“It could be so much worse,” Rumball said. “I could have bed sores, I could have pain. I can talk which is good, too.”

Once a person is diagnosed with ALS, their life expectancy is between two to five years.

Rumball said she worries about the people she will leave behind – especially her three grandchildren – after the disease ends her life.

“Nobody wants to die,” she said.

But for now, she said the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has given her renewed hope that researchers can one day find a cure, or at least more effective ways to treat the disease.

“I was always optimistic,” Rumball said. “Hopefully, some good will come out of this Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Mellissa Bromley said she also hopes the attention the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the disease can give researchers the resources they need to make medical advances.

Bromley's mother, Claudette Bromley, was diagnosed with ALS on June 27, 2013.

On Aug. 14, Claudette was admitted to Health Sciences North, where she has been kept on life support.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge has revolutionized how people think about it,” Bromley said. “It gives you a boost. It lifts your spirits a lot.”

Around 1,200 Ontarians have ALS.

Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the ALS Society of Canada raised around $12 million in August to support researchers provide much-needed equipment for families.

The disease can cost families up to $150,000 for supportive equipment and services over the few years their loved ones live with the disease, said Brigitte Labby, ALS Canada's manager for northeastern Ontario.

To learn more about ALS, and to donate to ALS Canada, visit als.ca.

ALS Canada will host a comedy night for ALS at the United Steelworkers Hall on Sept. 10. Tickets for the event are $25, and can be purchased by contacting Brigitte Labby at 705-674-0224, or [email protected]. The money raised will help support ALS research and families support their loved ones with the disease.

The comedy show will start at 7 p.m.
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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