MDA: Family strength after mom's battle with ALS

9:47 PM, Aug 29, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

Waterloo, IL (KSDK) - Memories are everybody's personal diary and the Leifeld family spends a lot of time flipping through the pages.

It hasn't been an easy time in their Waterloo, Illinois home. Just a few months ago, the bright light of the family went out.

Angela Leifeld, 41, was a loving wife, a mom of four, and a junior high school teacher who only last summer was hiking on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon.

"A couple of weeks after we got back, she told me she couldn't use her left hand as well as she used to, " said Angela's husband, Bob Leifeld.

After a battery of tests, doctors broke the bad news. Angela had ALS.

"It was a hard minute," said Leifeld. "She broke down crying. I was crying."

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a fatal, rapidly progressive, neuromuscular disease. Bob Leifeld had to break the news to his children, including twin boys, Spencer and Mitchell.

"I immediately ran over, grabbed a book off the shelf and tried to figure out what ALS was," said 14-year-old Mitchell Leifeld. "And once I found out, I ran to my room and cried a ton."

Once diagnosed, patients usually die within three years. The disease took Angela in less than 10 months.

"I remember staying at her bedside the whole time and saying good bye and how much I loved her," said Mitchell.

There is no splint for a broken heart, so the Leifeld's are healing by keeping Angela in their thoughts.

"She was awesome," said Spencer Leifeld. "She was a really good mom and a really good teacher."

There is no cure for ALS, but the Muscular Dystrophy Association is the largest contributor to research and support.

"We got a lot of assistance from the MDA," said Bob Leifeld. "We got a loaner wheelchair and a cane and the support group that we went to for ALS patients."

ALS may be a disease that weakens the muscles, but when it strikes, patients and their families often show great strength.

"I definitely learned a lot from her," said Bob. "Thank goodness now, I have that."

For now, The Leifeld family is taking one step at time. They still feel lonely, but thanks to Angela's love and spirit, with memories, they will never be alone.


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