“As you grow, you learn more. Aging is not just decay…it’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand that you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.” –Morrie Schwartz
On Wednesday October 14th Playhouse on Park brought to life once again the memoir Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I started off with a quote from the play because I found it enlightening that a man suffering from a disease that actually speeds up the decay of his own body could change his perspective and use the unfortunate events of life to better understand himself, the disease, and the purpose of life. Morrie Schwartz was a 78-year-old sociology professor at Brandeis University who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) during the summer of 1994. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, nicknamed after one of baseball’s greatest, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that targets the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord (“Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet”). Over time motor neurons in the body start to die and the brain’s ability to stimulate control of muscles is lost. Without this connection “sclerosis,” or hardening, of the muscles occur creating the inability to walk, speak, eat, and in Morrie Schwartz’s case eventually breathe. ALS is a debilitating disease that effects people of all race and ethic background and does not have a proven cause. It is the most common neuromuscular disease worldwide; however, there is still a copious amount of information about the disease that remains a mystery. Strides have been made in the past twenty years regarding ALS research identifying specific enzyme mutations associated with the disease. Due to the fact that the disease has been difficult to identify time has not been dedicated to intensively researching the disease until recently. People like Morrie Schwarts who use their own obstacles in life to help progress knowledge and spread awareness aid in the development of further research studies regarding ALS and hopefully one-day help pinpoint the cause and cure for the disease.
“Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health, 18 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.