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I took the ice-bucket challenge for Bernice

Like many throughout Canada and the U.S., I took the ice bucket challenge today. As we all know, this is for a great cause; people around the world are supporting research efforts directed at finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also know as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

There is, as well, a very personal reason for my taking this challenge. My mother-in-law, Bernice Mackay, is currently suffering from ALS. It is a very difficult time for Bernice, as well as for my father-in-law, Bob, my wife, Cheryl, and her sisters, Susan and Janice.

In under a month, the ice bucket challenge has raised over $50 million throughout North America; an amazing effort that demonstrates the power of social media combined with a huge amount of good will.1

The success of the ice bucket challenge is unprecedented.

“Alec Couros, a technology and media professor at the University of Regina, explained Thursday that he hasn’t seen any other campaign spread so quickly: ‘From the very beginning when it came out on social media, it had a really personal tone to it,’ he explained. ‘People’s stories matter and I really think this is one of the things that helped with this.’”2

Cheryl’s mom Bernice Mackay

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that can affect anyone, most often between the ages of 40 and 70. The disease affects motor neurons that serve as a link between the brain, brain stem and muscles of the body. The unfortunate symptoms of patients with ALS revolve around muscle dysfunction and muscle loss throughout the body.

Despite the fact that there is, as yet, no cure for ALS, there are hundreds of active programs of research and much progress is being made. In particular, ALS Canada has funded research wherein advances have been made around the process of neuroinflammation, the use of stem cells for ALS, the discovery of ALS genes and the discovery of biomarkers.4

Let’s hope the research will, in the not too distant future, provide the keys to unlock the mystery of this disease.

If you took the ice bucket challenge, tell us about it by commenting on the blog, or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.



1. http://tbo.com/news/breaking-news/als-ice-bucket-challenge-raising-cash-other-nonprofits-awed-20140822/

2. http://globalnews.ca/news/1521061/the-als-ice-bucket-challenge-a-look-at-the-success-behind-the-movement/

3. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail_ALS.htm

4. http://www.als.ca/en/research

Dr. John R. Pellettier

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 13:11

This is indeed a terrible disease and my deepest sympathy goes out to your wife, her mother, and their family.
I wonder if I could be permitted to also add my classmate and former Dean, Dr. Barry Smith, who succomed much too early.
John Pellettier Meds “69

Dr. John R. Pellettier

Thanks you John. I appreciate your remembering Dr. Smith for our blog readers. Dr. Smith was a great academic citizen and fondly remembered by Queen’s alumni.



Dr Shelley Ann Routhier Meds '95

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 13:12

Thank you once again for a thoughtful blog.
My 15 year old son wanted to commemorate his great-aunt who passed away 5 years ago at the age of 51. He held an ice bucket challenge during 3 separate events. My ice maker was working overtime! He made us very proud.

Dr Shelley Ann Routhier Meds '95

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