Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and for certain individuals, the journey can be incredibly challenging. Today, we share s true story of Philip, a senior engineer in the semiconductor industry, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at the young age of 36. Over the past eight years, Philip's unwavering resilience and unyielding determination have been a shining example of strength in the face of adversity. His journey serves as a powerful testament to the human spirit and the ability to overcome even the most daunting obstacles. We're proud to announce that Philip now serves as our MNDaSG Vice President, continuing his advocacy and support for the ALS community. Let's join him in making a difference to spread hope and positivity together!
ALS is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It's a rare disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and eventually respiratory failure. The average lifespan of an ALS patient after diagnosis is two to five years. However, I have beaten the odds and lived with ALS for a long eight years.
It all started when I noticed that I could not use my fingers to screw things in and my speech was becoming slow. So, I decided to go to the National University Hospital (NUH) for a check-up. After a year of testing, I received the devastating news that I had ALS.
Although my diagnosis brought immense sadness, my wife and I refused to give up. We continued to exercise by swimming and brisk walking at the gym. Despite the worsening of my condition, we actively sought out new ways to support my body and even explored Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine. We even traveled to Thailand for a two-day special massage and more.
However, after two years, I could not swim due to the weakness in my arms. I could only walk slowly in the pool. Around the third year, my balance became too unsteady to walk on gym machines or in the pool. Yet, I was determined to keep walking and started taking slow walks in parks and gardens. Eventually, after five years, I realized that I could no longer will my body to move normally, and I decided to resign from my job. I began thinking about how to support my daily life and maintain some independence. To achieve this, I had to learn about smart home systems to convert my house into a place I could control using my smartphone.
Throughout my journey, I held onto hope despite my challenges. I underwent various treatments, some of which were painful and difficult to endure. Despite this, I am grateful to have surpassed the average five-year lifespan of an ALS patient. I maintained my faith that everything else would fall into place if I did my best.
Now, eight years after being diagnosed, I walk slower than a snail’s pace, I hunch rather severely and hold on to my wife's hand to move around, but I still make myself walk. Although I fall more often, I still persist. I only use a wheelchair when I go shopping and traveling. I am thankful for living in the 21st century because I can manage my life through online shopping, internet banking and maintain my connections with friends and family through technology.
I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support of my family and friends, particularly my wife, who is my caregiver. Her encouragement has been invaluable during moments of emotional instability and depression.
Like mine, your life might have worsened significantly, but please do not give up. Live your life to the fullest, like me, even with ALS. Our stories will be a testament to the human spirit and how determination and resilience can overcome even the most challenging circumstances.