Police sergeant to honor son
By Ann Kenda, Correspondent, Posted Aug. 15, 2014
Northborough Police Sergeant Jim Bruce will honor his son and show support for other families living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis when he pushes an empty wheelchair during the August 17 Falmouth Road Race, which raises money for Compassionate Care ALS to support people with the terrifying disease with no known cause or cure.
Bruce said his son Matt was just 25 when he started to notice that his hands were trembling and his speech was becoming slurred. When the symptoms didn't go away, he saw doctors who tested for everything they could think of, hoping that his illness was anything other than ALS. Matt died on March 21, less than a year after his diagnosis with the rapidly progressive neurological disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and robs patients of the ability to control voluntary muscles.
Bruce said Matt accepted his diagnosis without questioning why he had to be one of the rare cases of ALS among the young or becoming angry about his situation. He said Matt, who loved to hunt, fish, attend Bruins games and go to country music concerts with his friends, continued to live life after his diagnosis in a way that inspired others, even top doctors in the ALS field. He said he went to Ireland, which he had always wanted to do, and on a Disney vacation, and attended a Bruins game three days before he died.
"He never looked back, and made every day count," said Bruce, who added that Matt was very clear from the beginning that he did not choose to undergo a tracheotomy and would rather just be made comfortable until the time came.
Bruce said he hopes by pushing the empty wheelchair, he will raise awareness about ALS.
The wheelchair Northborough Police Sergeant Jim Bruce will push in the Falmouth Road Race.
"This disease is just awful. It robs you of the ability to talk, walk, eat and breathe, but at the same time you still have your mind, and it can be hard to communicate what you want and need," said Bruce.
He said he has learned by experience that it's important to respect the wishes of the person with ALS, such as whether they want their life extended by any means possible or if, like Matt, they don't choose to undergo a tracheotomy and would rather just live as normally as possible until the inevitable end.
"He chose not to fall in a hole, and feel sorry for himself," he said. He said Matt, who worked in the funeral industry, continued to work until it was no longer physically possible. Matt was a young man of great faith, he added.
While he also supports ALS research, Bruce said he chose to raise funds for Compassionate Care ALS because it puts the focus on the patients and can provide them with ramps, beds and wheelchairs that are often not covered by insurance and be very costly. You can help Sergeant Bruce honor his son with a donation at www.ccals.org.